The past few years the Purdue Boilermakers had been a team that was always near but couldn’t quite reach the top of the mountain in the Big Ten. That is no longer the case and the defending Big Ten champions will now look to defend their crown against a conference full of teams that will give them their best shot each and every night. Let’s take a look at how the conference slate breaks down for the Boilermakers for the 2017-2018 season.
Purdue kicks off their conference season with a road game at Maryland where they played one of the better games of the conference season last year. These teams, however, are both looking for new number one guy with the departures of Caleb Swanigan and Melo Trimble. The Boilermakers will then return home to face the Northwestern Wildcats on December 3rd, a team they should match up very well with.
In one regard, the Boilermakers caught some breaks in their conference schedule. They’ll only see the Michigan State Spartans once this season on February 10th. However, it’s in East Lansing and while Purdue did go on the road and get a win in that building a year ago, this is a different Spartan team.
The real meat of the schedule for this team will come in mid-January into February with a seven game stretch that looks like this: at Michigan, at Minnesota, vs Wisconsin, at Iowa, vs Michigan, at Indiana and home against Maryland. Last year, Ann Arbor, Derrick Walton and the Wolverines proved to be too much for Purdue. Of course, the Barn is never an easy place to play, especially as Minnesota will look to contend for the conference title this season.
Wisconsin is always a team that could give Purdue trouble as they are a group that won’t ever beat themselves, though being in Mackey Arena should certainly give Purdue a big advantage. They won’t have that luxury when they go to face the Iowa Hawkeyes in what has been nothing short of a house of horrors for Purdue fans over the last few years in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Even without Peter Jok, Iowa looks to be a team that could make some noise and there is certainly potential for the Iowa City blues to continue for Purdue on January 20th.
After they return from Iowa City, they’ll have two out of three at home in Mackey, one of the best home environments in the conference. However, there is some letdown potential as sandwiched in between those contests is the always highly anticipated Indiana game. On January 25th, Purdue will play their second game against the Michigan Wolverines, followed by the heated Indiana match-up in Bloomington against the now Archie Miller led Indiana Hoosiers. Upon their arrival back in West Lafayette, they’ll be welcomed back with a second meeting with the young and talented Maryland Terrapins.
While that seven game stretch should provide a really fair idea of how good the Boilermakers really are this season, there are plenty of other opportunities to show their merit as the defending conference champions. The previously mentioned meeting with Michigan State on February 10th in East Lansing followed by a trip to Madison for an encore showing of the Boilermakers and the Badgers.
Other than only playing Michigan State one time this season, the Boilermakers will face most of the top tier teams in the league twice in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Maryland. Of course, they also just have the one meeting in early December against the Northwestern who will only be moving forwards as a program following their first NCAA Tournament berth in school history.
The one showdown with Michigan State being on the road leads to Purdue having a fairly difficult conference schedule, and while virtually no conference games at this point are seen as gimmicks, the Boilermakers will certainly have nothing handed to them this season with their schedule and the target on their back as the defending conference champions.