The regular season has come to an end in the college basketball season and Purdue will be the two seed in the Big Ten Tournament after sharing another regular season crown with Michigan State. Now there’s plenty of basketball left to be played, so what’s the perspective for a successful season for the Boilermakers?
It has been well documented where every thought the Boilermakers were after the 6-5 start to the season and losses to good programs in non-conference, finishing 23-8 and 16-4 in the Big Ten. No one saw a Big Ten championship coming and a finish above the Michigan Wolverines. Right now Purdue is slated to get a 3 seed in March Madness and that should of course come with at least a Sweet 16 berth, but is that a successful season?
Carsen Edwards was named a third team All-American and was of course named a preseason Player of the Year Candidate and finished with almost 23.5 points per game, but he has struggled to be efficient to end the regular season. Can he lead the Boilermakers in to a region finals and beyond?
At the beginning of the season if Edwards wasn’t scoring you’d expect Purdue to be losing, but the kids have grown up in the black and gold. But for success in March your star has to play like a star. Purdue will play the winner of Minnesota and Penn State on Friday and has what looks like an impending meeting with Michigan on Saturday. That is of course where the minimum success should be and will be a good measuring stick for what the Boilers want to do in the brackets. The Wolverines smacked Purdue early in conference play but this is entirely different team, so it’s a rematch everyone is looking forward to. The Wolverines and Spartans are Final 4 contenders, so where does Purdue stack up?
Regular berths as one of the 16 best teams each year isn’t a terrible thing, but for Matt Painter’s squad those top 16 finishes have been disappointing to say the least. Let’s be honest for the potential Coach of the Year, injuries have played a big part, but it is tough to watch teams like Loyola, Nevada and even Tennessee make those runs. Look at where the Volunteers have gotten to using their run from last March, and that’s without any big recruiting classes.
Now there are rumors that UCLA is sniffing around Painter, a really unfamiliar territory for Boiler faithful, and of course the ‘Fire Painter’ bandwagon is indifferent about it. Hell there were people saying that Jeff Brohm hasn’t been worth the money and there has never been a more joke statement made about Purdue Athletics. The truth is this year is definitely one of Painter’s best coaching performances, if not his best. He has evolved and really built a good team that lost four senior starters and still won the Big Ten championship, but when does the breakthrough come?
Purdue doesn’t recruit as well as Indiana and Painter doesn’t coach as well as Izzo and Beilein but the black and gold has been consistent over the last five year. When is Painter’s one breakthrough that can alter the program? Getting Biggie Swanigan was huge, but if you’re being honest two Sweet 16 berths with the 5* recruit was falling short. That leaves that little bit of a gap still between Michigan and Michigan State but Matt Painter still won a share of the regular season title, so close the gap in March.
At the beginning of the season a share of the regular season title and a Sweet 16 berth would have been a huge success for a season that was a rebuilding one. The kids are and will get more great experience, but when you’ve got stars you have to win. In all reality this will be Edwards last season in West Lafayette but, unlike Biggie, can he leave something more behind? Can Purdue surprise and Coach of the Year candidate Matt Painter take Purdue another step forward? Can it be an outstanding success instead of a standard successful one?