2018 Purdue Boilermakers Basketball Predictions with Odds and Expert Picks
Purdue had a nice season last year. They finished third in the tough Big Ten, made it to the championship game of the Big Ten Tournament, and secured a No. 2 seed in the Big Dance. But then luck ran out. Star center Isaac Haas broke his elbow in the opening game of the tournament. They still won that game, and another. But when they ran into Texas Tech in the Sweet 16 they were short of tools, and they fell. It was a disappointing end to a 30-win season. And it was the end of an era is a way, as several key pieces moved on. The team will likely take a step back, and won't hit the 30-win mark again. But the Big Ten isn't as strong as it was last year, and this team can't be counted out.
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Purdue Boilermakers Additions/Losses
Before we get to what the team lost, we should focus briefly on what they didn't. Leading scorer Carsen Edwards, now a junior guard, and now-sophomore point guard Nojel Eastern, both declared for the draft without an agent, but both opted to come back to school. Losing them on top of their other losses would have been really rough. The team lost center Isaac Haas, forward Vincent Edwards, and guard Dakota Mathias - the team's second, third and fourth leading scorers in order - to graduation. The first two are in the G-League now, while the latter is playing in Spain. Fifth-leading scorer P.J. Thompson, another guard, graduated as well, but the gap between him and Mathias was significant. And depth forward Jacquil Taylor transferred. Taylor barely played, but four of the five leading scorers, and four of the five biggest minute eaters, are all gone. That leaves a clear hole.
Evan Boudreaux arrives from Dartmouth as a grad transfer with two more years of eligibility. He averaged nearly a double-double and will be a part of a very intriguing rotation at center.
The team added three recruits. The most interesting is guard Eric Hunter, who was an excellent scorer in high school who should earn time in a hurry this year. Two big forwards - Trevion Williams and Emmanuel Dowuona - are the others. One of those two could redshirt. The team also has two freshmen coming off of redshirts. Aaron Wheeler is a big and athletic forward, while Sasha Stefanovic is a shooting guard. The former has a much better chance of making an impact this year.
Purdue Boilermakers Outlook
You can make a pretty good argument that Edwards is the best player in the Big Ten last year. He scored 18.5 points a game last year and will have a bigger role this year without the four seniors around to share the load. He and Eastern will likely spend a lot of time in the back. Both are ball-handling guards, and Eastern is much more defensively sound, while Edwards is a much better scorer. Eastern rebounds well, too, which means he could step into the now-empty shoes of Vincent Edwards pretty well. They could be a strong pair together.
Matt Haarms was very solid as a freshman last year - high energy and creative - and he is the other half of that interesting rotation with Bordeaux I talked about earlier. Again, chemistry is a question, but if they can work together well then coach Painter has a nice toy to play with. Ryan Cline is another interesting guy. A senior guard who was mostly just a shooting specialist off the bench behind the star seniors, he will likely play a bigger role now.
Purdue Boilermakers Schedule
It's a reasonably solid nonconference schedule. In the Charleston Classic they could run into teams like Wichita State and perhaps a ranked Virginia Tech team. It will be a strong measuring stick for this team. In the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, they face a very tough test at Florida State. They also play at Texas and against Notre Dame on a neutral court. Thanks to a quirk of the Big Ten schedule as it expands to 20 games for the first time, they also play two conference games in early December - a month earlier than usual. Maryland shouldn't be great, but playing at Michigan is going to be another big early test for this team. That game comes three days after they play at Florida State, so if the team has vulnerabilities they will certainly be exposed that week.
The rest of conference play is mostly what you would expect from the Big Ten. They play Michigan and Wisconsin only once each.
Purdue Boilermakers Futures Odds
Despite all the changes, the team enters the year ranked 24th in the preseason AP poll. Oddsmakers are even more optimistic - they are at +4500 to win the national title at Bovada , which puts them behind only 17 other teams, including just the two teams from Michigan and Indiana from the Big Ten.
Purdue Boilermakers Predictions
I honestly don't know how to feel about this team. I am really high on Edwards, and there is some nice talent here still. But losing four guys as important and experienced as they lost can hit a team hard. On paper they could replace what they lost, but games aren't played on paper. I would term myself as cautiously optimistic. I don't see them winning the conference, but a top four finish in the Big Ten and a trip to the tournament would be a success. An attainable one, but not a certain one.
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