Matt Painter Explains How and Why Recruit Rankings Miss the Mark


Purdue’s unexpected early exit from the Big Ten Tournament is now ancient history as they won handily in Hartford last night over Old Dominion 61-48 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Boilermakers will next take on the defending national champions Villanova Wildcats at approximately 7:40 p.m. central on Saturday, March 23 on TNT. Some believe that the Boilermakers’ surprise early ending in Chicago will be a blessing in disguise, as it gives the team some rest, and more time to get ready for the big dance.

michigan state vs michigan

That seems valid, as we saw how the Boilers came out of the gate versus the Conference USA tournament champions Thursday night, and beat them very solidly. If you’re betting on Purdue against the defending national champions, and looking to do some gambling like you would at you will see the Boilermakers as -3.5 point favorites according to most sports books.

If you want to bet big, like one can do at this Bet365 alternative link then check out the Boilers national title odds, which we’re seeing commonly seeing at 22/1.

“You want to win the conference tournament, but you really get judged on how you do in the NCAA Tournament,” head coach Matt Painter said Friday night after his team was upset by Minnesota.


“We’ve done it before and won a couple games, and then you get to that quick Thursday game, and it’s a little bit harder. It just depends on the team that you have and the depth that you have.”

“If you have a team with a lot of mental toughness, I don’t think a lot of that matters.”

“You’re going to run into tough teams no matter who you play, but there’s only one way to look at it after you get beat. Get some rest and try to keep your focus on the NCAA Tournament and find out that first opponent and start to do your homework and figure some things out, but as a competitor, you’d rather keep playing.”

Matt Painter mentioned mental toughness, and that’s fitting, given how it’s a trait that’s essential to the Boilermaker culture. The Boilermakers’ success (a Big Ten record 24 conference titles) is partially due to a chip on your shoulder, proving your doubters wrong kind if mentality.

You know the values: “time to play hard,” “defense lives here” and so forth. These are hallmarks of the Purdue program on a macro level. On the micro level, you see it in the way Purdue players often overachieve well above and beyond what their recruiting rankings indicated.

Just a couple weeks ago, Matt Painter ripped ranking recruits as “one of the dumbest things ever.”

We’ve strongly agreed with Painter on this stance for many years, and we kind of echoed his sentiments a bit in this  essay, penned last summer “Beware the Nefarious Influence of the Recruiting-Industry Complex.”

“If you went back and dissected the people that ranked those players you would see that that doesn’t make any sense what they do,” Painter said after closing the regular season at Northwestern with a league title clinching win.

“Me and you and our grandmothers could sit here and say these players are the 20 best in the country, but from 21-300, it’s a crap shoot, how do you know what’s inside somebody? You could see somebody jump over the moon, but are they a good dude?

“Are they a good teammate will they pass the basketball?”

“There’s times you go after somebody, he’s the 50th best player, and then you have somebody who’s not in the top 150, nobody talks about him and I think this guy right here is better than this guy- doesn’t mean I’m always right.”

matt painter

“If they want back and dissected that though the years, they’d find there was a lot of mistakes.”

Painter, the reigning Big Ten Coach of the Year, feels that head coaches often get assessed by how they do, given the supposed talent level of who they recruited to their roster.

“You had all these four stars, all these five stars, why didn’t you win? Some of those factors I just mentioned are the reason why.”

“Then they’ll go and kind of oversell a guy who didn’t get those guys and say ‘hey that guy can really coach’ when in reality those guys were more productive in the beginning, they just weren’t as athletic as the other guys.”

So how did we get here? Why are is there so much over-emphasis on players who haven’t even played a minute of college ball yet? Why has that superseded other aspects of the game that should, in a more just world, be more important?

“It gets people away from the types that are solid. We’re excited about somebody getting a dunk or an alley-oop,” Painter continued. “We pay attention to highlights.”

“Who wants to sit around and watch somebody work the ball around, let’s be honest, I don’t want to see that.”

The Boilers boss then summarized how the true key to success is to find a hybrid.

purdue basketball matt painter

“You have to have pieces in this game, do you have to have a couple of those pieces no question, we’re not sitting up here without a Caleb Swanigan or Carsen Edwards or Isaac Haas or Vince Edwards we’re just not, but the pieces around the guys make for a good team,” Matt Painter concluded.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for NBC and Chicago, regularly appears as a guest pundit on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

He also contributes sociopolitical essays to Chicago NowFollow him on Twitter and Instagram. The content of his cat’s Instagram account is unquestionably superior to his.

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