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Breaking Down Purdue’s 2019-’20 Schedule

What are the Boilermakers up against this season?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional-Purdue vs Virginia Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

The Boilermakers came about as close as one could get to their first Final Four since 1980 last season. Behind an incredible performance from Carsen Edwards, Purdue had Virginia dead to rights late in the second half only for the Cavaliers to improbably tie the game and win it in overtime.

The bittersweet nature to that tournament run creates an interesting dynamic heading into this season. Edwards, Ryan Cline, and Grady Eifert are gone, but players like Nojel Eastern, Matt Haarms, Trevion Williams, and Aaron Wheeler all played meaningful minutes in that game and return this season. How will they respond?

Purdue also exists in a bit of a transitional period this season. Evan Boudreaux and High Point transfer guard, Jahaad Proctor are the two seniors, and the roster is going to ask for contributions of as many as six freshmen and sophomores in their top-10 this season.

It’s a program that will both work the Virginia game into their motivations but also allow for a younger group to start to build its legacy.

Let’s take a look at what Purdue is up against this season.

Purdue’s 2019-’20 Schedule

  • 11/6 - Green Bay
  • 11/9 - Texas
  • 11/13 - at Marquette
  • 11/16 - Chicago State
  • 11/23 - Jacksonville State
  • 11/29 - VCU (neutral)
  • 11/30 - Tennessee/Florida State (neutral)
  • 12/4 - Virginia
  • 12/8 - Northwestern
  • 12/15 - at Nebraska
  • 12/17 - at Ohio
  • 12/21 - Butler (neutral)
  • 12/28 - Central Michigan
  • 1/2 - Minnesota
  • 1/5 - at Illinois
  • 1/9 - at Michigan
  • 1/12 - Michigan State
  • 1/18 - at Maryland
  • 1/21 - Illinois
  • 1/24 - Wisconsin
  • 1/28 - at Rutgers
  • 2/1 - at Northwestern
  • 2/5 - Iowa
  • 2/8 - at Indiana
  • 2/11 - Penn State
  • 2/15 - at Ohio State
  • 2/18 - at Wisconsin
  • 2/22 - Michigan
  • 2/27 - Indiana
  • 3/3 - at Iowa
  • 3/7 - Rutgers

Non-Conference Breakdown

Holiday Tournament

The Boilermakers participate in the Emerald Coast Classic this season. The first matchup is against the VCU Rams.

The Rams project to be the top team in the A-10 this season and are ranked no. 25 in the AP Poll. This is a good team that will play Purdue close throughout. KenPom puts Purdue at a 66 percent chance for victory, while T-Rank has this one as a tossup.

For Purdue to come out on top they will need to contain 6-foot-2 senior guard Marcus Evans. The Virginia-native averaged nearly 14 points per game last season but sometimes struggles with efficiency. Have to think Nojel Eastern will earn the defensive call on this one, and maybe that will help the Boilermakers slow him down. Take a look at some highlights from Evans last season below.

Next, the Boilermakers will face either Florida State or Tennessee. Purdue played both teams in exciting games last season. They lost on the road to Florida State in a close loss, and of course, everyone remembers the tournament classic against Tennessee in the Sweet Sixteen last season. Plus it gives us the excuse to post Ryan Cline’s disgusting step back three-pointer in the game’s final minute.

KenPom currently has Florida State at no. 14 this season, and Tennessee at no. 19.

Gavitt Games

For this year’s edition of the Gavitt Games, Purdue heads up to Milwaukee to play the Marquette Golden Eagles. Steve Wojciechowski’s squad projects to be fourth in the Big East this season. In the first preseason AP Poll, the Golden Eagles are receiving votes.

The player to watch for Marquette is National Player of the Year candidate Markus Howard. The 5-foot-11 guard is one of the best scorers in the country. Last year he averaged 25 points per game and should rival those numbers again this year. Purdue will again likely put Eastern on Howard and try to make him play inefficiently. Eastern will need to be wary of foul trouble, and the other players around Eastern cannot let complementary Marquette pieces go off.

Take a look at some highlights of Howard from last season.

ACC/Big Ten Challenge

The Purdue-Virginia rematch everyone wants. Purdue welcomes the Cavaliers into Mackey Arena with some payback on their minds.

These are fundamentally different teams from last year’s game, but there is still plenty of fodder to make this one of the most anticipated ACC/Big Ten matchups in this year’s iteration.

Virginia enters this season at no. 11 in the AP Poll and needs to replace Ty Jerome, Kyle Guy, De’Andre Hunter, and Jack Salt. KenPom has them at no. 5 this season and T-Rank at no. 17.

The name Mamadi Diakite will probably give Purdue fans PTSD for a generation, but he has all the tools this season to become Virginia’s next featured player. It will be interesting to see how he plays in this one as he will probably have the Mackey faithful zeroed in on him.

Take a look at some highlights from Diakite last season. And no, that shot isn’t in this clip.

The Longhorns Come To West Lafayette

One of the other intriguing matchups from Purdue’s tough non-conference slate is a home game against Texas on November 9th. The Longhorns and Boilermakers played last year in Austin with Texas pulling out a close victory, 72-68.

This season Texas is no. 34 right now in KenPom and no. 25 in T-Rank. Containing 6-foot-2 guard Matt Coleman III will be Purdue’s primary focus. He scored 22 points on 7-11 shooting last season. Below is an interview and some highlights from Coleman courtesy of the Big XII.

Conference Breakdown

Toughest Stretch

  • 1/5 - at Illinois
  • 1/9 - at Michigan
  • 1/12 - Michigan State
  • 1/18 - at Maryland

A tough stretch awaits Purdue early on in the Big Ten gauntlet. These early-to-mid January games present some road hurdles in tough places to play like Illinois, Michigan, and Maryland and a home game against the possible no. 1 team in the country.

I think if you gave Matt Painter truth serum he’d probably be okay with 2-2 in this stretch, especially if a Michigan State win is involved.

Best Chance For An Upset

Let’s stick with that January 12th matchup against Michigan State.

Purdue blitzed Michigan State at home last season in the first half and then held on in the game’s final minutes to earn an important victory last season. Overall, Michigan State has struggled at Purdue recently, not having a win in Mackey Arena since 2014.

Purdue is presented with another chance to take down Michigan State at home and have one of (if not the) best victory of the season. It should be another raucous one from Mackey Arena.

Road Game To Watch Out For

A road game against Wisconsin is always a precarious one. The Boilermakers travel to Madison on February 18th in a big one against the Badgers.

Purdue, more so than other Big Ten teams, has had some success against Wisconsin in Madison, but it remains one of the most challenging places to play in the Big Ten.

The schedule doesn’t do Purdue many favors here either. The Boilermakers will head to Madison after a presumably bruising game against Ohio State on February 15th. This Wisconsin matchup will also be Purdue’s third road game in four, and its fourth game in ten days. Its next home game is also against a potentially tough Michigan squad on February 22nd.

KenPom puts this as a two-point win. It should come down to the final possessions.

Overall Outlook

One of the biggest reasons Purdue earned a three-seed last season was its strength of schedule. KenPom had Purdue’s strength of schedule at no. 4 last season. This allowed for the Boilermakers to pick up some key, impressive victories and earn a better seed in the tournament which kicked off that magical run.

The Boilermakers seem to be trying for a similar run this season. Purdue plays six non-conference top-35 KenPom teams before January 1st. Last year, that number was at three. Couple this with the strength of the Big Ten slate and Purdue should see those strength of schedule numbers near the top of the country again.

A nice component of Purdue’s tough non-conference schedule is that they get a few of these Quad I win opportunities at home. Picking up wins against Virginia, Texas, and a couple of neutral floor wins over VCU and Butler and the Boilers should be looking strong come tournament time. It’s a young and untested team in many ways, but as last year proved, Purdue will probably use this tough schedule to learn, grow, and get ready for March.