Good Wins: Boston College, Davidson, Wisconsin, @Minnesota, @Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State
Bad Losses: None.
1. Defense: The Boilermakers are an angry swarm of bees on defense. Purdue is ninth in the country in field goal percent defense (38.5 percent) and tenth in scoring defense (58.7 points per game). Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency ratings exemplify even more how great the Boilermakers are defensively. Purdue is fifth in the country in defensive efficiency, allowing 86.6 points in 100 possessions. (NOTE: This stat is much more useful than points per game because some teams play more up-tempo while others, like Purdue, play a walk-it-up style).
2. Toughness: In watching Purdue of the past few years, one can’t help but see a similar version of the early 2000s Duke teams. Purdue is always over-pursuing a passing lane beyond the arc, making life miserable for the opposing offense. Moreover, this style continues for 40 minutes. Maybe we’ll call it “40 minutes in the boiler room.” Chris Kramer, covered with a facemask from a broken nose suffered earlier in the year, is the poster child for the Boilermakers. Kramer is one of those gutsy performers who will throw his body all over the floor, take a charge and turn an opposing 2-on-1 into an offensive foul via a charging call. We can’t forget about Robbie Hummel, the 6-foot-8 swingman who was voted the Big Ten’s preseason Player of the Year. Hummel is playing with hairline fracture in his back, which sounds just as painful as it probably is. Why? Because he can and, if he didn’t, he wouldn’t be exemplifying the Boilermaker way of toughness.
1. Scoring: What gets lost in all the talk of Purdue’s stunt defense is the borderline anemic offense. Offensive efficiency numbers have Purdue ranked 62nd in the country (109.4 points per 100 possessions) but without turning a quick steal into easy points, the Boilermakers trying to score in a half-court set is as enjoyable to watch as Craig Sager wearing his traditional ridiculous garb.
2. Rebounding: When a team decides to play small and quick, something has to give. For Purdue, that something is rebounding. Purdue rebounds less than 30 percent of its misses, which is in the lower fourth of the country and actually has a negative rebound margin (-0.1).
Talent: Based on the recent recruiting rankings, Purdue has as much talent in the freshman and sophomore classes. Couple that “talent” with last year’s Sweet 16 appearance and Purdue has a good mix of postseason season experience and talent.
Sweet 16. It’s difficult to envision Purdue making a deep tournament run. The Boilermakers just don’t pass the eye test as a team that can beat some of the nation’s best on a neutral floor. A team with size and quickness, however, could eliminate Purdue before the first weekend concludes.