Boiler Up

When discussing the history of Big Ten basketball, the Purdue Boilermakers may be the 6th or 7th team mentioned. This is a program that, in both basketball and football, is middle of the pack team in the conference more often than not. This year's Boilermakers may change that image for good. In a day where teams swear by the three point jump shot, and most teams play a stretch 4, Purdue is able to quietly dominate teams in the paint just like the good old days.

Matt Painter is in his 11th season as the Purdue Men's Basketball coach and this may be his best chance to make a run yet. He has led the Boilermakers to the Sweet Sixteen twice before and do not count them out to do even better this time around. Painter has his team dominate with size and muscle, as even more skilled teams cannot defend the paint. Led by possibly the best platoon in the country in A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas, the team has only been out rebounded once this season. This came in a game at Michigan's Crisler Arena, where they struggle to assert early dominance in the paint, which resulted in them getting caught in transition too often.

Despite being a Senior, A.J. Hammons rarely plays more than 25 minutes a game and still is able to record double-doubles. The ability to hit various shots from all over the floor makes him impossible to guard and makes him a poor man's Tim Duncan. The reason for his short playing time is because he is backed by previously mentioned, 7'2" sophomore Isaac Haas. Add in lengthy freshman flex-forward, Caleb Swanigan, and you are looking at possibly the scariest front court in the nation. All three guys can play with their back to the basket and are all able to step out and hit the mid range, making them very tricky to defend.

Of course, when talking about a team with such great size, the question looms, can their guard play be good enough to win it all? Due to the help of the size down low, another scary aspect of this Purdue team is their ability to step outside and hit the three when you least expect it. This can be so disheartening for teams who seem to have finally figured out how to defend Haas and Hammons, as a three can totally change the game. Ryan Cline is a hometown freshman that is a three point sharpshooter and is the one to look out for beyond the arch. Another stat worth looking at is the Boilermakers are 5th in the country in Assists Per Game at 17.8. This number is aided by the fact that the guards can drop the rock into the post whenever, but it provides a fair measurement that shows that Purdue's guards can compete.

Expect to see the Boilermakers as high as a 3 seed or as low as a 5 seed come Selection Sunday. The build of this team makes them a team that can avoid upsets, and I expect them to only lose come the second weekend of play when they are potentially paired with higher ranked teams. With the size to beat you on the block and on the glass, the Purdue Boilermakers are going to be a scary team in late March, scary enough to maybe even have that "One Shining Moment".