Purdue is a school with a lot of questions to be answered going into the season. They have so many young players and are led by a star plyer who can dominate a game or blend into the scenery on any given night. How do you make bold predictions for a team like this? You go wildly positive of course
1. Newcomers will see more playing time than upperclassmen
This first prediction is not all that bold since Painter's team will include 5 freshman and 5th year transfer Jon Octeus from Colorado State, and only return five guys who played 30+ games last season. I expect the point to be run almost exclusively by new guys Octeus and PJ Thompson. At the other positions Purdue has an incoming recruit that will get some starts at each spot: Issac Haas (C), Jacquil Taylor (PF), Vince Edwards (SF), Dakota Mathias (SG).
2. The Boilers will sweep the rest of Indiana (that they play)
This season the Boilermakers will play IU twice and IUPUI, IPFW and Notre Dame once each. The Hoosiers will obviously be the most difficult opponent, as they compete in the best rivalry in college basketball* and all, but who knows how the early season turbulence in Bloomington will affect the team long term. Additionally, IU is lacking their usual experience and talent in the frontcourt, where Purdue is expected to be very strong. The Fighting Irish are not expected to be a contender in the ACC, also Purdue is due to finally win their first game in the Crossroads Classic (0-3). The Summit League's IPFW Mastodons and IUPUI Jaguars will struggle to compete inside with Haas and Hammons. That'll leave no doubt in anyone's mind who the best team is the state is (except maybe the fans of Butler , Ball State , Indiana State, Valparaiso or the Evansville Purple Aces)
3. Matt Painter will make it to the end of the season without losing any players
Again, this is not that radical of a prediction, but between academic issues, dismissals for off-court violations, and injuries it is no longer common for a team to finish their year with the same roster they began it. Purdue has suffered from this quite a few times over the years. Recent examples include the Kelsey Barlow incident and last year's shocking medical retirement of promising player Jay Simpson (I won't include the other obvious recent example, lest fans burst into tears over what might have been). This year's group seems to have high character players and the injury bug really owes the Boilers a year without any big bites.
4. Purdue will not only make the tournament, they will reach the second round
Purdue is a young team this year, but they already look like a more mature team than the last few years. They seem to have the attitude that Boiler fans and coach Matt Painter expect out of their players, something that has been missing recently. One image that sticks out in my mind from the exhibition games is 7'2" freshman Isaac Haas diving on the floor for an offensive rebound, and even though he was unsuccessful, the whole crowd cheered and the bench went nuts...for a failed effort play...in an exhibition. That is what people around this program want from their team and it will lead to success in tight games if they really commit to every play every night. That small difference will lead to a tourney berth in a hotly contested B1G this year. And once the Boilers reach the tourney, they have not lost their first game since the 1993 tournament and I see no reason why they would this season.
5. A.J. Hammons will return for his senior season
Hear me out on this one, when the Boilers do return to the tourney, that taste of success sparks something in AJ and he decides that he needs more. So he meets with the coaches and forgoes the draft after end of season projections have him outside of the lottery picks and decides that he will probably end up in the same place even after another year. Painter holds a press conference and announce the big man is staying in West Lafayette for one more go round. Fans go nuts like they have just won the National Championship....and maybe they will, but that is for next season's article to predict.