Your weekly Purdue Men’s Basketball snark, and other snidbits from around the Boilermaker Universe
I grew up in a wonderful wooded country neighborhood along a stretch of cornfields just west of Valparaiso. There was a basketball hoop in every driveway, and acres of grass that doubled as both football and baseball fields every night.
A half mile east was another neighborhood. Filled with the same driveway hoops and grassy acreage. Half mile west, same thing. We all had bicycles and our parents let us roam. We would climb trees and skin knees. Our parents didn’t care what adventures we went on so long as we were home at some point (normally well after dark) and that we were showered and ready for church on Sundays.
Some of my greatest memories are playing in our neighborhoods, pretending to be Mike Alstott, Matt Waddell, and Glen Robinson, scoring the game winners in our respective championshiops.
We had a kid in the neighborhood who ended up being one of my best friends. A silly kid, as we all were, this youngn’ would often play a game in which he would ask “why?” following any statement. With tongue firmly placed in cheek, he would question everything that happened, at an age well beyond the “why” phase that toddlers often go through.
Me: Nice shot man!
Me: It just was!
Me: You’re annoying.
Me: Just check the ball, lets go…
As obnoxious as that was, it was humorous all the same. The “why” phase has been on my mind lately. The reason, as we are now approaching the NCAA tournament, is simple. Why not Purdue? Purdue can’t make a run at this thing. Why? Purdue can’t beat a one seed. Why? Purdue can’t make a Final Four. Why? Purdue can’t win it all. Why?
Yes, folks, I am not dumb. I have lived through 35 years of NCAA tournament disappointments. I have seen Purdue get upset by the likes of mid majors, and I have seen them lose to powerhouses. I have seen the Boilers lose when they should have won. I have seen them win when they should have lost. Most of all, I have never seen Purdue win an Elite 8 game.
You know what else I have seen? I’ve seen VCU march throughout the tournament. I’ve seen Butler do it twice. I’ve seen Richmond, George Mason, Loyola Chicago… I’ve seen 16 seeds upset 1s. 15s upset 2s. Anything can happen in the crapshoot which is the Big Dance.
Why not Purdue? In this, the year of our Lord, 2021, with COVID flying around the nation, and bubbles, and uncertain times, and sanitizing basketballs, and the entire tournament being played in Purdue’s back yard… Why not Purdue? The Boilermakers taking a stab at this thing makes as much sense as anything else on God’s green earth right now.
Purdue just finished the season ranked in the top 25, in 4th place in arguably the toughest conference in college basketball history… with a bunch of freshmen. Purdue took Ohio State, a 2 seed to their limit in the Big Ten Tournament. Let me tell you something, brother, if you can hang with a 2 seed, you can hang with a 1 seed.
Pile the excuses on there all you want. Purdue is too young. Gonzaga is too good. Baylor is too athletic. Michigan is too tough. Illinois is too hot. The tournament is too rough. Wisconsin too experienced. Luka Garza, Luka Garza, Luka Garza.
I’m over it. This team is talented enough to, at minimum, compete with anyone in the field. If you can compete, you can win. Sure, it will take a stroke of luck here and there. It will take some heroics. Why not Purdue?
Purdue hosted a talented Ohio State team in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. Although the Boilers had beaten the Bucknuts twice this year, Ohio State came out bombing 3s, and scoring at will. Eventually leading by 18 at half.
Purdue could’ve keeled over and died, and entered the NCAA Tournament whimpering and licking their wounds.
In the second half the good guys battled back. On the shoulders of Trevion Williams’ 26 and 14, and Jaden Ivey’s 19 points, the Boilers ended up forcing overtime, even though they missed 12 free throws on the night. Just wish they had hit one more.
Unfortunately the gas ran out in overtime, and OSU took back over as the Buckeyes took the game 87-78.
Photo Credit: Mark Elsner
Break It Down:
Purdue could’ve drifted off to naptime after sleepwalking through the first half. They didn’t. They showed their toughness and resiliency.
Losses in the B1G Tournament happen, frequently, for our Boilers. What you want to see is the fight. You want that grit. You want a team that just wont die. This team will frustrate you. This team will thrill you. This team will not give up. This team has won some. This team has lost some. This team will not die.
It’s March, baby. Do or die.
Reaping What You Sow:
Everything the Boilers accomplished this year has led to this. The exciting wins, the frustrating losses, the illnesses and injuries have led to this week.
As expected, Purdue earned a 4 seed. They will take on the 13 seed North Texas “Mean Green” out of Conference USA in the first round. They play for the right to play the winner of Villanova vs Winthrop. Looming in the shadows is 1 seed Baylor, who will presumptively be the Sweet 16 opponent for any of these teams. Beat Baylor, and Purdue could be making history. Clearly a tall order.
A wise, older man once bestowed upon me some of the greatest words of advice that I have ever heard, which directly apply to a potential Purdue vs. Baylor matchup. He told me, “In order to be the man, you have to beat the man.” That older gentleman was Rick Flair, legendary professional wrestler. He knows a thing or two about being a champion. Woo.
Rick Flair or not, lets not get ahead of ourselves. Have to beat North Texas first.
It’s do or die time. Win and advance, lose and go home. Simple as that.
Win or lose, however, this Purdue team has been one of the most likable teams in recent memory. Whether they win it all or lose in the first weekend, I am immensely proud of this team. I can not be happier with the personalities, the heart, the toughness, and the exuberance from this squad. Lets see what kind of damage they can do, shall we?
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