#9 Purdue Boilermakers: What to Watch at Illinois Thursday


While the Purdue Boilermakers have tumbled down the national rankings and seen their B1G title hopes all but dashed, they still have a ton to play for at Illinois tomorrow night. The Boilermakers can still grab a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but only if they close out the regular season by winning their last two.

If Purdue suffers a loss to either of the two teams (at the 12th place Illini Thursday night, towards the bottom of a very VERY soft B1G, their #1 seed hopes will likely be all but dashed. That said, there’s even more on the line, for both sides. Let’s run through all of that:

I joined the Hammer and Rails podcast (SB Nation’s Purdue Boilermakers community) to preview this game and breakdown the Illini and the B1G in general. We have that pod linked above. In the meantime, here are some of the topic we discussed.

(Here’s a link to H&R’s preview by the way)

Streaks and Trivia

The Boilers senior class entered this season having won at least once at every league arena except Michigan, Iowa and Illinois. They have already checked the first two off the list, so Matt Painter’s crew will be very amped up to complete the trifecta in 2017-18, and finish off their B1G road victories collection.

On the other side, the Illini have beaten at least one ranked team in every season going all the way back to 1974-75. Over the 40+ years, the Purdue Boilermakers have been a regular part of that. At first it sounds mean to say that, but it’s actually a complement, because it notes how Purdue has consistently been nationally ranked so much over all those many decades.

illini basketball

Additionally, this could become the first Illinois team not to win a road game since 1906; a squad that couldn’t even manage a win at the Evanston YMCA gym (not a joke). FireElwoodBrown.com

The Illini will get a chance to make sure this doesn’t happen on Sunday when they visit Rutgers, but should they drop that contest, plus this one against the Purdue Boilermakers, Illinois will eventually hit 19 losses on the season (including eventual postseason elimination defeat). That mark would tie the 2007-08 and 2015-16 teams for most losses in a single season.

Then there’s this “benchmark” too:

In other words, there’s more at stake here than you might initially think, and Illinois Fighting Illini versus #9 Purdue Boilermakers is more consequential than one would expect at first glance.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune company’s blogging community Chicago Now.

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