There is no more unpredictable time of the year than March Madness. The month of March brings upsets galore, with high seeded teams going on unexpected hot streaks, taking them deep into the NCAA Tournament. Arguably the most unpredictable matchups of the bracket are the 8/9 matchups. In many cases, a single regular season win is what it could have taken to give a team the eight seed over the nine, and a single loss could have done the exact opposite. These games are toss ups. Arguments for both sides can be made, but no one can truly be confident in a prediction until the final buzzer sounds.
One of the 8/9 matchups this year is between No. 8 Cincinnati and No. 9 Purdue. The Boilermakers finished fourth in the Big Ten standings after a comeback win at home over Illinois to finish the regular season.
Purdue had its struggles and its high notes during the regular season. But as we all know, teams are different when it comes to the Tournament. There is no way to predict which team will show up on the big stage. So, let's take a look back at what side of Purdue has shown up in the past.
The Boilermakers have made 26 trips to the Big Dance; however, they have only made it to the Final Four twice, with no National Championships. In fifteen appearances, they have not lost an opening round game since 1993. However, more than half of those games were followed by a loss in the round of 32.
Purdue's last trip to the Tournament was in 2012. The No. 10 Boilermakers started the Tournament off with an upset over No. 7 Saint Mary's. They would then face No. 2 Kansas. Though in a Jayhawk-fan packed arena only three hours away from Lawrence, Kansas in Omaha, Nebraska, the Boilermakers almost picked up another upset. With under a minute left in regulation, Purdue had the ball and was holding on to a 60-59 lead. With the shot clock winding down Lewis Jackson lost control at the top of the key. Kansas' Elijah Johnson picked it up and brought the ball down for the go-ahead lay-up with 23.3 seconds left.
Tyshawn Taylor added another basket for Kansas with 2.5 seconds left after Purdue's Robbie Hummel missed an open 3-pointer at the other end. After a timeout, Purdue's Ryne Smith got a decent looking potential game-tying shot off, but it hit off the backboard to give Kansas the trip to the Sweet 16.
If Purdue continues its trend of opening round wins, then technically we could be looking at an upset, even though it would only be a one seed difference. The Boilermakers suffered some tough losses in the regular season, but also showed some sparks of success. As with every other team, the difference between a win in a loss is going to come down to which Purdue team shows up at the right time. But if the downside of the Boilers decides to make an appearance, Matt Painter's team may have a tougher time breaking its 1-1 streak at the tournament.