Purdue Has Eyes On Final Four
This college basketball season has been anything but predictable. There are always upsets and surprise teams, but it seems like this year has been on a whole new level. Arizona opened the season with 3 straight losses and a last place finish at the Battle of Atlantis, but have since climbed back into the top 15. Oklahoma climbed into the top 5 with the play of Trae Young, but have since lost 6 in a row and dropped out the top 25. Virginia lost to Virginia Tech and actually rose to number 1 in the country. Kentucky is having a down year, North Carolina has 7 losses, Xavier and Texas Tech are in the Top 10. Did we mention Auburn was once ranked #5?
This year above any other year has been unpredictable, but I am about to give you a lock (unless it does not happen and then it was a guess). Purdue will make the final four this year. You are probably asking yourself why am I so sure or you are laughing because the last time Purdue made a final four was 1980 when they lost to UCLA. Sure the Boilermakers have not had much luck in the tournament, but below are some reasons why they are the best bet to make the final four this year.
First, here are the odds for the top teams to win the national Championship
Villanova – 9/2
Michigan State – 5/1
Virginia – 6/1
Duke – 7/1
Xavier – 10/1
Purdue – 10/1
Arizona – 12/1
Auburn – 16/1
Texas Tech – 16/1
Ohio State – 16/1
Why Purdue Is A Lock For The Final Four
In a world of one and done players in college basketball the Boilermakers are actually led by a sophomore and four seniors. Carsen Edwards is the Boilermakers leading scorer and just a sophomore and the next four top scorers are seniors. The seniors account for 42% of the teams scoring led by Vincent Edwards at 14.9 and Isaac Haas at 14.8 points per game. While getting top talent can make a good basketball team (ask Kentucky), there is something to be said with the chemistry you can get from playing with the same teammates for 3 or 4 years as the Boilers have. One and done talent does not always mix and the results can be less than stellar, so having that familiarity is helping Purdue this year. They also have the experience of making the sweet 16 last year until they ran into a buzz saw in Kansas. But they have tasted what its like to get to the second weekend. That experience will help in this year’s tournament. They are hungry and have played that way most of the year. Until their little hiccup against Michigan State and Ohio State they had been blowing out teams on their way to a 19 game winning streak. 19 game winning streak.
It seems like teams have started going away from a true big man that can post up with regularity. NOT Purdue, they have a 7’2” beast in the middle in Isaac Haas. While he is a matchup nightmare for almost anyone. As a team they shoot 41% from behind the arc. And it is not like they just have one sharp shooter. They have four guys who substantial minutes while shooting 40% or higher and their leading scorer is just behind shooting 39%. So do you double Haas and leave a shooter open on the arc? Or do you take the chance that your big man can stop Haas? If you only had to worry about one shooter the decision could be easier but with the possibility of every other guy on the floor being able to shoot the 3 you have to pick your poison. They may be the only team in the country that has that type of balance. Others might shoot the 3 better, but nobody has the skill inside like Purdue does.
While no one is going to confuse them with Virginia defensively, the Boilers are pretty good on this end of the court also. They are 15th in the country in only giving up 64.3 points per game. They have only given more than 80 points once and they won that game (92-88 against Michigan). And they have only given up over 70 points another 7 times. Needless to say they just do not give up a lot of points. With Purdue averaging over 80 points per game it puts a lot of pressure on the other team. Purdue has had the answer almost all year and the defense has been a big reason why.
The Boilermakers have had their fair share of decent seeds recently falling somewhere between a high middle to middle seed. You are probably thinking why this matters? To get to the final four you still have to beat all of the seeds in your region. While that is a true statement, nobody will ever complain about having an easier path to get there. A one seed will have to at best beat an eight or nine to get to the sweet sixteen and a two seed needs to knock off a seven or ten seed. Being stuck in the four or five spot means you would have a tougher second round game and obviously it gets worse as you go down the line. Unless they stumble down the stretch or in the Big Ten tournament, the Boilermakers will be at worst a three seed and more than likely a two seed. That puts them in prime position to get through the first couple of rounds and get the nervousness of playing in the tournament out of the way. If they can start off hot then they are a team no one will want to play. While there is no dominant team this year, there are a bunch of good teams and the longer they can avoid those teams the better their chances.
Betting on Purdue in the tournament has been a losers game in the past and rightfully so as they have not fared well. But this year is different, this is arguably the best team Purdue has had since the years of Glenn Robinson. The Boilermakers have all the ingredients to make a deep run into the tournament this year and have as a good of chance as anyone.
Call it being lucky that there is no dominant team this year, but Purdue needs to be taken seriously. So if you are looking for a good solid bet for the Final Four, give Purdue a look. They are going to be playing in the Alamodome the first weekend in April.