RTC Class Schedule 2009-10: Purdue BoilermakersPosted by zhayes9 on September 7th, 2009
Ed. Note: for all of the posts in the RTC 09-10 Class Schedule series, click here.
The Final Four in Indianapolis sets up a dream scenario for Purdue coach Matt Painter. Much like Michigan State last season, who cruised through Minneapolis, Indianapolis and Detroit en route to the national title game, Purdue has the potential to set a goal of playing in front of their Indiana faithful at Lucas Oil Stadium for Final Four 2010. With a first/second round site in Milwaukee and the Midwest Regional located in St. Louis, Purdue could go the route of their Big Ten rivals a year ago by garnering a #1 seed on Selection Sunday.
Does Purdue have the tools to reach such lofty goals? Absolutely. For the second straight season, the core of the Boilermakers return to try and make the next step in March after falling in the second round in 2008 and in the Sweet 16 in 2009. You know the names by now- 6’10 forward JaJuan Johnson, whose numbers improved drastically from his rookie campaign, Chicago scoring guard E’Twaun Moore, team leader and potential Big Ten POY Robbie Hummel, defensive stalwart Chris Kramer and the emerging young point Lewis Jackson to compliment Keaton Grant. In addition, Painter lured in four talented Indiana recruits.
In order to reach Indianapolis, the Boilermakers must trek through this challenging schedule:
Non-Conference Schedule Rank: 7.5. The non-conference schedule is fairly demanding for the Boilermakers. One of the best non-conference games of the year takes place on New Year’s Day between two of the most rugged teams in the nation- Purdue and West Virginia. The Mountaineers return Devin Ebanks, Da’Sean Butler and Darryl Bryant for a team that could contend for a Big East crown. Purdue also plays in the Wooden Tradition on December 19 against an unknown opponent (it’s getting late, kids) and takes on Wake Forest at home in the ACC/Big Ten challenge a year after Duke entered West Lafayette and dominated. Painter and Co. must also travel to Tuscaloosa to take on new coach Anthony Grant and Alabama. The real tests could come in November at the Paradise Jam.
Cupcake City: Not too many cupcakes for Matt Painter this non-conference season which makes sense given his team’s talent level. Purdue faces Memphis’ favorite team, Cal State Northridge, to open the campaign with an easy first round Paradise Jam game and Central Michigan rounding out November. Ball State, Valparaiso and SIU-Edwardsville rounds out the cupcake list.
Toughest Early Season Test: Since the January 1 meeting with West Virginia at home isn’t quite early enough to qualify, the Paradise Jam should pose quite a challenge. After taking care of South Dakota State in the first round, a likely contest with top-five ACC team Boston College looms. The Eagles did lose Tyrese Rice, but the rest of the roster returns for Al Skinner. Should Purdue beat BC for the second straight season, they’d likely match up with Tennessee in the Jam final (assuming they get by MVC preseason favorite Northern Iowa). The Vols have oodles of talent from forwards Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism to guards Scotty Hopson and J.P. Prince. The final would take place on November 23, meaning a very early test against a top-15 team could be ahead for the Boilermakers.
Easiest Conference Stretch: Much like fellow conference favorite Michigan State’s schedule, it’s difficult to find an easy stretch in the Big Ten this season. There may not be a ton of depth in terms of high-potential teams, but there are very few walkovers and plenty of teams that will contend for a postseason berth. A four-game stretch where Purdue could find definite success starts at the end of January with three home dates against Michigan, Wisconsin and Penn State. Only the Wolverines are a surefire NCAA team. The Boilers then travel to bottom-dwelling Indiana for a rivalry game on February 4. If they can avoid an upset at the hands of Michigan, a 4-0 stretch should be fairly simple.
Hardest Conference Stretch: The end of February will be a challenge for Purdue, testing the club before March and the games heat up even more. The four-game stretch includes road games at Ohio State and Minnesota with home dates against Illinois and Michigan State. All four of those teams are expected to reach the NCAA Tournament and both of those road dates will feature hostile atmospheres with hopes of knocking off an elite Purdue team. Plenty of pundits believe Michigan State has the returning talent to win a Big Ten title, too. If Purdue can take survive this late season stretch, they may take that crown from the Spartans.
Most Difficult Road Test: It has to be Michigan State on February 9. Much like last preseason, there will be many-a-argument regarding the favorite in this conference, and the discussion will revolve around the Boilermakers and Spartans yet again. Michigan State returns Kalin Lucas, wings Durrell Summers and Chris Allen, big men Draymond Green and Delvon Roe along with Raymar Morgan. That’s plenty of talent to take down all of those returning Boilermakers, especially in East Lansing. The two meetings between Michigan State and Purdue will be super-anticipated and vital towards grabbing a #1 seed for both teams.
Most Anticipated Home Date: The return date from Michigan State in late February should be pretty good. Purdue routed the Spartans at home last season. This rematch could very well decide the Big Ten title with a win maybe wrapping it up for Purdue with Indiana and Penn State their final two contests to round out the campaign.
Best Individual Matchup: Assuming they’re both healthy (and this may be a mistake judging by both players injury histories), Raymar Morgan taking on Robbie Hummel is one to watch. Hummel, along with teammate Chris Kramer, are known as superb defenders, while Morgan has the scoring potential to drop 25 on any given night if the effort is present. Morgan is extremely athletic and may be one of the few players in the conference to give Hummel fits. In 43 minutes played last season in two games vs. Purdue, Morgan scored just 10 points. Another interesting matchup will be sophomore point guard Lewis Jackson against Penn State’s Talor Battle.
Upset Watch: The orange-clad Illini faithful surrounding their home floor in Champaign poses one of the loudest threats to the opposition in the entire conference. Bruce Weber has a fairly decent team at his disposal, as well, with Mike Tisdale, Mike Davis, Demetri McCamey joining elite freshmen guards D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul. Teams like Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio State and others will be difficult road tests, but I’d say Illinois has the best chance to knock off mighty Purdue.
The sky’s the limit for Purdue in 2009-10 and expectations are unlimited. The Baby Boilers are all grown up and have more on-court experience with one another than any team in the land. Anything less than a Final Four appearance in Indianapolis will be disappointing for Matt Painter and the Purdue faithful. One thing fans can count on is effort and intensity from a Boilermaker team looking to make the next step.