Okay, Boilermaker basketball fans, it is now up to you. Matt Painter’s lads have done everything they can to put themselves in position to make a deep post-season tournament run.
Fresh off of securing their fourteenth consecutive victory, the Boilermakers are sitting on top of the Big Ten Conference standings. The Boilers are undefeated after seven conference games, one victory up on Ohio State.
Seems like more doesn’t it?
That’s because Purdue’s conference wins have come in convincing fashion. Purdue boasts one of the largest front lines in the country, and they all are highly skilled around the bucket. Drop down and sag on the big men, and the Purdue guards are filling the bucket with remarkable accuracy.
Granted, although Purdue is in the driver’s seat, there are eleven games remaining in the regular season. The Boilers still must play games against the four teams immediately behind them in the standings — including two on the road.
Can the Boilers run the gauntlet unscathed to defend their outright regular season Big Ten title? Probably not. Regardless, this team is playing with a confidence not seen in West Lafayette since 1988, when Troy Lewis, Todd Mitchell, and Everett Stephens had Boiler fans in a similar tizzy.
Every indication is that this Purdue team is going places. And, where they end up may depend largely on you.
At this point, Purdue is making its bid for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament. Even with a couple of close losses, the Boilers are likely no worse than a No. 4 seed. However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The 2018 Big Ten Conference Men's Basketball Tournament is played the first week in March, and this is where the Boilers need some help — your help.
The NCAA Selection Committee has a list of criteria they use to select tournament seeding. They include The Rating Percentage Index (RPI), in-person evaluations, head-to-head match-ups, non-conference strength of schedule, and road wins.
However, I still believe one backstairs measurement has to be how well a team’s fans support them. For many years, Purdue seemed to get shuffled off to some remote city for a first round game, almost punishing fans.
Purdue’s first round tournament sites have included Albuquerque, Spokane, San Antonio, Port-land, and Denver. It often seemed like the Boilers were outcasts.
In recent years, the Boilers have fared better, with games in Milwaukee and Chicago. The NCAA does consider travel costs when seeding their teams. Nevertheless, site selection seems also to correspond to fan support.
So, even though there are big games remaining with Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan, and Indiana, your target game as a fan should be the Big Ten Tournament. This year’s tournament is being held at New York’s Madison Square Garden. That isn’t easy.
But, if you can get there, do. A favorable NCAA tournament site for the Boilers may be riding on it.
John O. Marlowe spent most of his career as a “pine-time” player, and was football's first DH (dummy holder) for Wabash College in the late 1970's. New to the art of the sports beat writer, Marlowe has spent forty years – and nearly $11,000 – following Indiana high school sports.