Purdue Boilermakers: 23-9, 16-4 in the Big Ten Conference
Head coach: Matt Painter (14th season)
Players to watch: Carsen Edwards (23.0 PPG, 3.0 APG); Ryan Cline (11.9 PPG, .418 3P%); Matt Haarms (9.0 PPG, 5.4 RPG)
Season recap: After losing Vincent Edwards, Isaac Haas and Dakota Mathias to graduation last season, many expected a regression from the Boilermakers, who had a two-seed in last year’s tournament. However, led by unanimous Big Ten First-Team selection Carsen Edwards, Purdue finished tied for first in the conference with Michigan State, who it split the season-series with. The Boilermakers had a middling non-conference performance, losing to Virginia Tech, Florida State, Texas and Notre Dame. Although it lost to Michigan, Purdue took care of business against the rest of the conference, just dropping games to Minnesota and splitting with Maryland. Another loss to the Golden Gophers in the conference tournament quarterfinals concluded the solid season for the Boilermakers.
Edwards has filled the void left by graduation and carries a bulk of the offensive load. The junior is taking 52.1 percent of his 19.1 field goal attempts per game from deep and is the only player averaging over 12 points per game. However, what Purdue lacks in top-heavy star power, it makes up for in depth. The Boilermakers have 10 players averaging double digit minutes per game and seven players averaging over five points per game. Boasting the No. 5 efficient offense according to KenPom.com, Purdue only turns over the ball 10.7 times per game – good for 23rd in the country.
Defensively, the Boilermakers have two players averaging over one steal per game in Edwards and Nojel Eastern, who also leads the team in rebounds. Meanwhile, Matt Haarms takes care of the paint averaging two blocks per game, garnering an honorable mention for the All-Big Ten team.
How they make a run: The depth of Purdue, paired with the play of Edwards and gameplan of Matt Painter—Big Ten Coach of the Year–helps lead the Boilermakers deep into the tournament.
How they falter: In seven of Purdue’s losses, Edwards has shot under 40 percent from the field. With Edwards struggling, the Boilermakers have difficulty picking up the offense leading to problems.