Listen, folks. Many people have called us haters. That we “don’t know ball.” Many people have called us idiots and other vile names on the internet — namely, Rutgers and Wisconsin fans — and it was probably warranted! This week, we’re putting our hater hats on and questioning the legitimacy of yet another Big Ten giant — Purdue.
But first, a recap.
Last week, Connor and Justin debated whether USC and UCLA joining the Big Ten in 2024 was good for the Big Ten from a basketball standpoint. Overwhelmingly, the people sided with Justin, agreeing that it’s a good thing that these two west coast powers are joining the Big Ten. The Kent State kid picked up a whopping 73% of the vote. That means Justin’s long-overdue comeback is finally complete.
After 79 weeks:
(There have been four ties)
As previously stated, the No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers (10-0, 2-0) are looking down on everyone from the top spot in the AP Poll for the second year in a row — they were No. 1 for one week last season, too. But are the Boilermakers really the best team in the country? That is this week’s discussion.
Today’s question: Is Purdue the best team in the country?
This is a very, very good Purdue team — much better than I gave them credit for at the beginning of the season. Through 10 games, pretty much all of the concerns people had with this Purdue team (that was picked to finish fifth in the conference) have been addressed.
Can Zach Edey stay out of foul trouble and play enough minutes to really dominate games? Well, he’s averaging nearly 32 minutes per game and is scoring 22 points per night to go along with 13.7 rebounds.
Will Purdue produce a few complementary scorers to ensure that teams can’t sell out against Edey? Freshman guards Fletcher Loyer and Braden Smith are averaging 22.4 points per game combined thus far, plus an assist-to-turnover ratio of better than 2:1. Smith is also shooting 43% from three.
Can they play enough defense to overcome possible slow offensive nights? Right now, they’re the No. 28 defense according to KenPom.
The issue is, a lot of this may not be sustainable. Right now, Purdue is shooting just a hair under 34% as a team from three-point land — 10th in the Big Ten. That’s not a horrid number, but it’s not good, and it’s certainly not indicative of a team that may be the best in the nation. I think the Boilermakers are playing above their actual level right now, and the shooting numbers might not improve — that’s bad for Purdue and bad for Edey.
I’m also skeptical that guys like Loyer, Smith, and even Edey himself can keep up this unbelievable pace. The freshmen are going to hit bumps — they always do. When this happens, defenses will shrink and Edey will have much less space to work with. He’ll be forced to take some heavily contested shots, or kick it back out. Since the success of this team entirely hinges on him, that’s important.
Some recent results are also concerning. Going to overtime against Nebraska as the No. 1 team in the country? Beating a one-win Florida State team by 10 points? Purdue was playing with fire on the road against two bad teams and luckily didn’t get burnt either time.
I think Purdue is the favorite to win the Big Ten right now, but I wouldn’t say they’re anywhere near a “heavy” favorite. UConn is rolling on all cylinders, Houston has only lost one game (against an elite opponent), and Alabama is just scratching the surface of what they could become. While they’ve earned the No. 1 spot for now, I don’t think Purdue is the best basketball team in the country.
The really fun question is, when Purdue visits Columbus on January 5, how much will the Boilermakers be favored by?
I’m back baby. Also pretty inevitable I will lose this lead (tie but to me, it is a lead) pretty soon. But nevertheless, here we are.
This week, I am going out on a limb and I am going to say that the No. 1 team in the country is the No. 1 team in the country. Call me crazy.
It has been a very weird season in the college hoops world in general. No one has been able to stay at the top of the mountain and the team that started at the top of the mountain isn’t even ranked anymore (looking at you North Carolina).
Purdue has moved all the way from their preseason ranking of No. 24 to now No. 1 in the country after their 10-0 start. The Boilermakers have risen to the cream of the crop after just one month basically and have convincing wins over Gonzaga and Duke by 20.
One thing going for the Boilermakers is they have the best player in the country right now in Zach Edey. Edey is averaging 22 points per game and 13.7 rebounds per game while shooting 60 percent from the field. He had 31 and 22 in one game. Granted against Minnesota but still.
And as everyone predicted, they have two of the best freshman in the country right now. Fletcher Loyer is averaging 13 points per game and Braden Smith is averaging 9.3 points per game, 5.0 rebounds per game, and 3.6 assists per game. Caleb Furst and Ethan Morton have played great ball and after missing all of last season with an injury, Trey Kaufman-Renn has bounced back in a big way. And of course, always trust in Matt Painter.
It can also basically be assumed that they will win every game at Mackey Arena because that is just what they do. One of the toughest places to play in the country and is not a place many teams are able to come into and win.
And they have proven they can win the close ones. They beat Nebraska in overtime and beat Florida State after playing a close game most of the way through. They have blown out Gonzaga and Duke. They got it all.
And hopefully, they are 13-0 when they come to Columbus on Jan. 5.
Is Purdue the best team in the country?
This poll is closed