Season so far: 10-3
Good wins: Iona (10-2) on a neutral court. Miami (7-4) at home (though that may turn out to be a very average victory at the end of the season).
Bad losses: Well, that depends on your definition of “bad.” Looking at Purdue’s losses in terms of building a NCAA Tournament resume, the only “bad” loss was on a neutral court against Butler (6-7). However, I would posit that all three of Purdue’s losses qualify as bad. They got absolutely demolished by then No. 15 Alabama (9-3), who is a very talented and defensively orientated program (the final was 65-56, but the game was not even that close). Then, the Boilers blew a double digit second half lead at then undefeated No. 11 Xavier (9-3). The Boilers also needed a second half comeback at home to beat woeful Western Carolina (6-6).
Leaders: The Boilermakers are led by superstar senior Robbie Hummel, who is ranked third in the conference averaging 17.5 points per game and 10th in rebounding at 5.9 per game. Fellow senior Ryne Smith is eighth in the conference in 3 point percentage at 46 percent and ranks first in the conference in threes made per game with 3.0. Senior Lewis Jackson is sixth in the conference with 4.2 assists per game, and junior Kelsey Barlow is sixth in the conference with 1.7 steals per game.
Best case scenario: The Boilermakers prove that they are at their best once conference play begins, and smother the rest of the conference with amazing defensive play (currently second in the conference in turnover margin at +5.77 and fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.5) and open with a 5-1 record, losing a tough game to Wisconsin at home (the Boilers only play Wisconsin once this season). They drop four tough road games (Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Indiana), but mange to pull off an upset at Illinois. They hold serve at home save for that Wisconsin loss for a record of 23-8 (13-5) going into the Big Ten Conference Tournament. Their record ties them for fourth in the conference with Michigan State behind Ohio State, Wisconsin, and (grudgingly) Indiana.
Worst case scenario: The Boilermakers can’t get their problems at the foul line sorted out (currently last in the conference at 62%), continue to shoot from the field poorly (currently 11th in the conference at 44%), and get out rebounded consistently (currently 11th in the conference at only +2.0 rebounds per game). They get swept on the season by Michigan, Michigan State, IU, and Illinois, only beating up on the bottom tier teams. They beat Iowa, Penn State, and Northwestern twice and get a W against Nebraska, but fail to add a quality win to their resume and limp to a miserable 17-14 (7-11) record and hope for an NIT invite.
Prediction: I think the Boilermakers will end up somewhere in the middle of these two scenarios, ending with a 21-10 (11-7) record.