Purdue has been one of the lone bright spots this year in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers have made the NCAA Tournament five out of the last seven years but haven’t reached the Elite Eight since 2000, and the final four since 1980. Could this be the year Purdue snaps both these droughts?
Unlike most Purdue teams in the past, this year’s group has shot the ball very well from the outside. The Boilermakers are shooting a team percentage of 41.3% from 3-point land this year which puts them at fourth in the country. In addition to that, five players are shooting at or above 40% from long range this season. This includes national player of the year candidate Caleb Swanigan who is shooting at a clip of 47% from distance.
While their offense has been better than many thought, the defense has been consistent and solid throughout the course of the season. Purdue is 13th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency according to Kenpom, and have only allowed opponents to score 80 points three times this season in which they are 1-2 in those games.
While their hot shooting has made up for it, Purdue has issues taking care of the ball on the offensive end where they rank 178th in turnover percentage. Another area of concern has been foul trouble. In almost every game, opponents make it a motive to attack Swanigan and fellow 7-footer Isaac Haas down low and force them foul and get them out of the game. Often times, officials give these opponents the benefit of the doubt and either Haas or Swanigan is sitting on the bench early in the contest with two or three fouls.
When opponents force Swanigan or Haas to foul, more often Haas, these two start to become uncomfortable and play on their heels. When these Swanigan and Haas are playing with confidence and not worrying about fouling on both sides of the ball, Purdue is at its best and vice versa if opponents are having their way with these two 7-footers.
Photo via Purdue Men’s Basketball on Facebook