Purdue Boilermakers Might be Solid Longshot, Darkhorse Come March

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In 2019, the Purdue Boilermakers finally overcame one of the worst knocks on the program- a team that always peaks in February. They made their first Elite Eight in almost two decades, and were just split seconds away from their first Final Four in three decades.

It was a vast improvement over the previous season, in which they essentially peaked in January, instead of February. Boilermakers fans are waiting for the team that really peaks when it counts though, in March. While next to no one is berting the farm on a Final Four appearance, yet, this squad will likely be playing their best ball when it counts the most.

The NCAA Tournament is one of the biggest and best events on the sports wagering calendar, so if you’re going to do some online betting in Colorado you might want to think about March Madness longshots and dark horses. Purdue is currently projected by ESPN as the top team in the “last four byes” line. That means the four before the first four line. However, their metrics are much more impressive than that of a typical double digit seed, and teams on those seeding lines would definitely be in the #11 to #12 range.

With a KenPom of 26 and a Net of 33, with signature wins over Ohio State (Net 20), Penn State (Net 44) and Indiana (Net 58), there is no reason to believe the Boilers won’t be in the top half of the bracket, and well into it, come Selection Sunday.  Although that loss to Miami (Net 116) is very unfortunate and harmful. However, the entire NCAA Tournament will be in their backyard this time, and their home court, Mackey Arena, will be hosting games.

Still, these “Baby Boilers” are maturing and coalescing as the season goes along, and logic holds that they’ll be pretty solid and strong come March. You know the painful cliche, uttered by any pundit with a penchant for the shopworn “this team is growing up right before our eyes.” Announcers love to attach to any developing freshman or freshmen in college hoops.

It’s true though- behind the Purdue big three of upperclassmen: alpha dog Trevion Wiliams and co-second bananas Sasha Stefanovic and Eric Hunter Jr, there’s a troika of promising rookies rounding out the rotation. That triad is Canadian 7’4″ center Zach Edey, guard Jaden Ivey and guard Brandon Newman.

According to KenPom.com, Purdue ranks 329th (out of 347 teams) in experience (1.09 years). The total is 14th in the Big Ten. Indiana is the next least-experienced team in the league at 1.38 years (285th nationally).

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Purdue Coach Matt Painter knows what he has to do make sure this team can be all that it can be: “We have to do a better job boxing out.” Yes, they need to be better on the boards, and then try to be more consistent on the perimeter.

“We’re a good three-point shooting team,” Painter said after the win over Penn State. “It didn’t look like it today, but we are.”

Up next is a quick turnaround, a trip to Ohio State, as the game was moved up to due covid-19 outbreaks disrupting the schedule.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of  “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB NationFollow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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