Purdue Basketball Featuring Ups and Downs
The Purdue Boilermakers’ men’s basketball team was recently voted into the Top 25 for the first time all season in what has been a strange year for Matt Painter’s squad.
The Boilermakers are also climbing up the rankings on Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology and were last seen as a six-seed in the latest update. Purdue appears to be a virtual lock to make the NCAA Tournament this season, but they could use a few more wins to build up that resume.
Guard Sasha Stefanovic missed his third straight game on Tuesday night after testing positive for COVID-19. Stefanovic leads the conference in three-point shooting percentage at 45.6%, but the Boilermakers have been able to overcome his absence.
Freshman guard Brandon Newman was named Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Week for his performance in an upset win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers. In that game, Newman scored 29 points to go along with six rebounds to become the fourth Purdue freshman to win this same award this season.
The other three Purdue freshmen to win this award were Zach Edey (Nov. 11), Mason Gillis (Dec 21), and Jaden Ivey (Jan. 25). Newman is just the first freshman at Purdue to score at least 29 points in a game since A.J. Hammons scored 30 points against Indiana on Jan. 30, 2013.
Purdue left West Lafayette on Monday night for their Tuesday night game against Maryland, but their charter plane had to be diverted to Indianapolis due to mechanical issues. After boarding a different plane in Indianapolis, the team was able to make the rest of the trip and successfully landed in Maryland.
Big Ten Conference Remains Top in Country
It has been a banner season for the Big Ten Conference, and it continues to be the best basketball conference in the country. The top two teams in the country might not belong to the Big Ten Conference, but the Top 25 is loaded with teams from the league.
There are currently six teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, which is tied for the most by any other conference. In both the AP Poll and the Coaches Poll, three teams from the Big Ten Conference appear in the Top 10.
Thirteen of the 14 teams in the Big Ten Conference have a NET Ranking inside the top 100. There are three Big Ten teams in the NET Top 10 (Michigan, Illinois, Iowa), and they are one of just two conferences with multiple teams in the top 10.
Two of the top 10 scorers in the country are from the Big Ten Conference in Luka Garza (26.4 ppg) and Ayo Dosunmu (21.9 ppg). The Big Ten Conference is also well represented on a number of college basketball awards’ midseason lists.
The Michigan Wolverines entered Tuesday night action sitting on top of the conference standings with an 8-1 record in league play. Illinois was in second place at 7-3, followed by Ohio State (8-4), Iowa (6-3), and Wisconsin (7-4).
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