The Purdue Boilermakers are one of the more successful regular season programs in the history of the Big Ten, with their conference leading 23 Big Ten Championships. However, this regular season success has not always translated into success in the NCAA Tournament.
The Purdue Boilermakers have reached the NCAA Tournament 29 times and have been to the Big Dance three years in a row now.
Let’s check out some of the history of the Purdue Boilermakers in the NCAA Tournament:
Very Old History: (1969-1980)
The Purdue Boilermakers have been to the Final Four twice in the history of the program, and both of those trips took place in this time period. The first year the Boilermakers appeared in the NCAA Tournament they were led by Rick Mount. They went all the way to the National Championship game, but were defeated by John Wooden and the UCLA Bruins, 92-72.
The Boilermakers would make the NCAA tournament again in 1977, but were defeated by North Carolina in their first game.
In 1980, the Boilermakers made another strong push in the NCAA Tournament and went to the Final Four behind future number one overall NBA draft pick, Joe Barry Carroll. The Boilers would again come up just short of the National Championship, losing in the semifinal again to UCLA and then defeating Iowa in the third place game.
Old History: (1981-2005)
After the 1980 season, the Boilermakers named Gene Keady their new head basketball coach, and the program changed to a path of more tournament consistency.
Though the Boilermakers never did make the Final Four under Gene Keady, they were consistently in the NCAA tournament, while only making it three times before he arrived.
Purdue appeared in 17 NCAA tournaments in the 25 years that Keady led the program, and they appeared in the Elite Eight in both 1994 and 2000, coming up just short of the Final Four both years.
In 1994, the Boilermakers were led by the eventual number one overall pick and National Player of the Year, Glenn Robinson. Robinson still holds the school record for most points in an NCAA tournament game, scoring 44 points against Kansas to send Purdue to the regional final. Purdue fans may remember that Robinson suffered a back injury that limited him against Duke, where the Blue Devils led by Grant Hill held Robinson to only 13 points.
Recent History: (2005-present)
After Gene Keady retired, the Boilermakers turned to a former player to lead the new era of Purdue basketball. Matt Painter was selected to become the next head coach of the Boilermakers, and in his 13th season now, the Boilermakers are set to appear in their 9th NCAA Tournament.
Fans have been disappointed with the recent history of first and second round losses that the Boilers have faced under Matt Painter, and this season they hope to have a different result with a very talented team.
The Boilermakers have been to the Sweet Sixteen twice under Matt Painter. They were led in those years by the “Baby Boilers” of E’Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson and Robbie Hummel. In both Sweet Sixteen trips, they came up short against Connecticut and Duke in 2009 and 2010.
The last two trips to the NCAA Tournament are what truly have left a bitter taste in the mouths of Purdue fans, early exits in games where it seems like the team just falls apart. Missed free throws, careless turnovers, a lack of awareness of situations, etc.
It has seemed that at the end of both games, everything has gone right for the opposition and everything has gone wrong for the Boilermakers.
This team is certainly talented enough to change a lot of this recent history, and it will be interesting to see how things shake out for the Purdue Boilermakers in what will be their 29th NCAA Tournament appearance.