Conference: Big Ten
Location: West Lafayette, Indiana
Head coach: Matt Painter, 15th season at Purdue (321–159 record at Purdue)
2018-19 record: 26-10 overall (16-4 in Big Ten)
Last time in NCAA Tournament: 2018, lost in Elite Eight to Virginia
Top three returning scorers:
- Matt Haarms, junior, center, 9.4 ppg
- Nojel Eastern, junior, guard, 7.5 ppg
- Trevion Williams, sophomore, forward, 5.2 ppg
- Carsen Edwards, drafted in second round, guard, 24.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 83% free throw shooter
- Ryan Cline, graduated, guard, 12 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 41.7% three point shooter
Exciting newcomer: Jahaad Proctor is a senior graduate transfer from High Point. During his junior season Proctor averaged 19.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Hailing from the Big South Conference, it is never easy to project a player moving up in competition, but Proctor definitely has the skill set to come in and be a scoring threat in the Big Ten. He showed the ability to score from all over the court during his two seasons at High Point, and the 6-foot-3 guard will aim to mitigate the loss of Carsen Edwards.
Date of game one: Friday, January 24th, 6 p.m. on FS1
Location: Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, Indiana
Date of game two: Tuesday, February 18th, 6 p.m. on ESPN
Location: Kohl Center, Madison, Wisconsin
Preview: Carsen Edwards was one of the best scorers in the nation a year ago. Ryan Cline was a valuable sharpshooter than helped space the floor. Both top scorers are gone. Jahaad Proctor and Nojel Eastern will need to shoulder the load in a revamped backcourt, but both players are talented. Freshman Eric Newman was a four-star recruit, and should push for playing time right away. The key in the backcourt will be the growth of Eric Hunter and Sasha Stefanovic. Both players earned minutes last season, but were inconsistent.
The strength of Purdue will be in the front court. The 7-footer Matt Haarms can be a force on the defensive end. He has gradually improved on the offensive side of the ball, but his presence is most felt on defense. Next to him, sophomores Trevion Williams and Aaron Wheeler are both bigger forwards who can rebound very well and make plays offensively in the paint. Wheeler is a breakout candidate, and he has improved to be a competent three point threat. If the Boilermakers want to get back to the top of the Big Ten, the guards will have to be able to hit shots from the outside in order to allow the trio of bigs (Haarms, Williams, Wheeler) to have space to navigate in the post.
The company you keep... pic.twitter.com/07nTGufcog— Purdue Basketball (@BoilerBall) October 24, 2019
Prediction: Purdue just snuck into the preseason polls, and have the depth to be a solid team in the conference this year. I like the Badgers to match up well with Purdue, especially with Micah Potter eligible by the time both games are played. I think Wisconsin will either win both match ups or split the season series depending on the health of the Badgers.