As the Purdue Boilermakers get ready for their Thursday game against Arkansas-Little Rock, they're hoping to add another chapter in the story of their history in the NCAA Tournament. Purdue has appeared in the NCAA Tournament 27 times, making two appearances in the Final Four.
They've had their runs in the tournament, but have never reached the ultimate plateau in this tournament as national champions. Let's take a look at some of their history.
Very Old History: (1969-1980)
Purdue made it's first appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 1969 under head coach George King. The team was led by their All-American Rick Mount. In their first tournament appearance, they would manage to reach the Final Four before being defeated by a fellow Boilermaker great in the legendary head coach John Wooden, who in beating the Boilermakers in the National Championship game claimed his 5th National Title as a coach.
Purdue became the first Big Ten team to win the NIT in 1974, but they would later find themselves right back in the NCAA Tournament.
During this period, the Boilermakers would appear in three NCAA Tournaments. Along with 1969, they also appeared in 1977 and made their only other Final Four run in 1980 with another Big Ten legend in Joe Barry Carroll along with current Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings.
Old History: (1981-2005)
"Old History" could also be referred to in the timeline of Purdue basketball as the Gene Keady era. Keady was hired in 1980 and changed the fortune of Purdue basketball as we know it. In Keady's 25 years as the leader of the Purdue program, they would appear in 17 NCAA Tournaments.
Headlining their 17 appearances would be 2 runs to the Elite Eight.
In 1994, Purdue reached the Elite Eight behind their All American and National Player of the Year: Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson. They defeated Kansas in the Sweet Sixteen behind a huge performance from the Big Dog. Against Kansas, Robinson scored 44 points even after suffering a back strain. Roy Williams, who was then the coach at Kansas, still refers to it as one of the greatest single performances he's ever seen.
In 2000, the Boilermakers reached the Elite Eight again. They would suffer a 4 point loss to the #8 seed and Big Ten foe Wisconsin Badgers, though the Boilers themselves were a #6 seed.
Recent History: (2006-present)
Recent history has not been overly kind to the Boilermakers in terms of success in the NCAA Tournament. Since Matt Painter took over for Gene Keady after the 2005 season, the Boilers have appeared in the NCAA's eight times, including this year.
While making the tournament has not really been a concern for Purdue, making any kind of noise once getting there has been an issue. When the "Baby Boilers" were in West Lafayette in E'Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson and Robbie Hummel, they advanced to two consecutive Sweet Sixteens in 2009 and 2010.
In the final year of the Robbie Hummel era, Purdue had a chance to defeat the #2 seed Kansas Jayhawks. Leading 36-30 at halftime behind 22 points from Hummel. In the second half, it was a different story. The Jayhawks took over, limiting Hummel to 4 points in the 2nd half and winning to end a potential storybook run.
Purdue has not won an NCAA Tournament game since the 2012 season, failing to make the tournament in 2013 and 2014 and losing to Cincinnati in overtime in the opening round last season. Perhaps the team can snap that streak this year with a very winnable Round of 64 matchup.