Name: Purdue University
Location: West Lafayette, Indiana (which apparently is the most densely populated city in the state), conveniently located across the Wabash River from Lafayette, Indiana.
Enrollment: 50,884 as of Fall 2022, with 37,949 undergraduates. FUN FACT: Purdue’s student body is 57% male this season, which I presume as a lot to do with the STEM reputation that the school has. Hey, ladies is engineers too, but there’s a reason why there’s a heavy outreach to young girls and women to get them into STEM, y’know?
They Have A Drum: The Purdue marching band has a bass drum that stands 10 feet tall while on the cart that takes four people to move it. There is actually a physical fitness test to determine whether or not you’re prepared to move the thing around on its cart. They claim it to be the world’s largest drum, but in 2013, the Indianapolis Star proved that to be a lie and not by a little bit, either.
Why “Boilermakers?” They came by it honest, to be fair. Being called the Boilermakers for their trouncing of Wabash College is basically naming a team the “Runaway Train” in modern-day lingo.
Wait, What’s With The Guy In The Hat With The Hammer? That is Purdue Pete, who has been a part of campus since 1940, just like The Boilermaker Special, but has only been a physical performer at events since 1956.
The Grand Prix: As one might expect for a school with a fine history of engineering, they have a yearly go-kart race that has been running since 1958. Student teams build karts every year from scratch and compete on a — no, I’m not joking — million dollar track with what is regarded as “one of the most advanced computer scoring systems anywhere in the world of kart racing.”
Notable Alumni: Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan, Roger Chaffee, and Gus Grissom are amongst the 23 astronaut alumni; Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, known for successfully ditching into the Hudson River; Robert C. Baker, the inventor of the chicken nugget; Ward Cunningham, inventor of the wiki concept, without which this list of alumni would not be possible; “Not That” BJ Penn, former Assistant Secretary of the US Navy; comedian Jim Gaffigan, which will make this game incredibly awkward in the Gaffigan household considering Jeannie Gaffigan is a Marquette alumnus; Harold Gray, the creator of the Little Orphan Annie comic strip; Academy Award winning screenwriter Callie Khouri; businessman & politician Herman Cain; Orville m’f’n’ Redenbacher; Ruth Siems, the inventor of Stove Top stuffing; the other JaJuan Johnson; Brian Lamb, the founder of C-SPAN; Missouri basketball coach Cuonzo Martin; David E. Nichols, expert on psychedelics; Basketball Hall of Fame coach John Wooden; NFL quarterback Drew Brees; SEC on CBS broadcaster Gary Danielson; award winning adult film actress Bree Olsen, Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Hank Stram; Pixar animator and director Bob Peterson, best known as the co-director of Up and the voice of Dug in said movie; professional wrestler Dick The Bruiser, UFC Hall of Famer Stephan Bonnar; and finally, Eric Justin Toth, the man who replaced Osama bin Laden on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list.
Cricket Spitting: Every year, Purdue hosts something called “Spring Fest.” It’s apparently hosted by the College of Agriculture — they’re a Big Ten school and are probably required by conference charter to have an Ag school — and any part of Purdue University that submits a planning form and has an event/exhibit with a family friendly educational message can participate. Apparently, one of the most popular parts of Spring Fest is the Bug Bowl. The 2019 calendar included an insect petting zoo, a bee exhibit, a demonstration of how insects can be used as food, and so on.
Since 1996, part of the Bug Bowl has been a Cricket Spitting contest. Now, if you’re wondering how you train a cricket to spit, you can let that thought pass through your head. We’re talking about humans spitting frozen crickets. There are very serious rules involved, and the world record for cricket spitting is 32 feet, 0.5 inches, held by Dan Capps, who hails from Madison, Wisconsin. Please read this Salon article for more on cricket spitting and Mr. Capps.
Last Season: 29-8, with a 14-6 record in Big Ten play. They earned a #3 seed in the NCAA tournament and beat Yale and Texas to advance to the Sweet 16 before getting bumped off by the miracle run of Saint Peter’s.
Final KenPom.com Ranking: #14
Final T-Rank Ranking: #12
This Year So Far: 2-0, with easy wins over Milwaukee and Austin Peay.
Current KenPom Ranking and Projection: #22, projected to finish 20-9 overall and 12-8 in the Big Ten. That would end up as tied for second in the conference with Iowa and two games behind predicted champion Indiana.
Current T-Rank Ranking and Projection: #29, projected to finish (wait for it) 20-9 overall and 12-8 in the Big Ten. Here, that’s tied for third with Michigan State and Iowa, and just one game behind projected co-champions Indiana and Illinois.
Returning Stats Leaders
Points: Zach Edey, 14.4 ppg
Rebounds: Zach Edey, 7.7 rpg
Assists: Ethan Morton, 1.4 apg
Actual Stats Leaders
Points: Zach Edey, 21.0 ppg
Rebounds: 14.0 rpg
Assists: Ethan Morton, 5.0 apg
Shooters? Nope, not so far this season. David Jenkins, Jr., a transfer with time spent at South Dakota State, UNLV, and Utah, played 15 minutes in their most recent game against Austin Peay and went 1-for-2. That’s 50%, and he is the only Boilermaker shooting north of 30% this season. He is a career 41% shooter for what that’s worth. Fletcher Loyer is 5-for-17 (.294) through two games, and Brandon Newman is 3-for-11 (.273) so they’re the guys who are most likely to fire away. Loyer is a freshman who comes in as a top 100 prospect in the 247 Composite, while Newman was a good shooter as a freshman (38%) who saw his playing time trail off last season along with his shooting percentage (32%). Caleb Furst (42%), Mason Gillis (41%), and Ethan Morton (44%) knocked down shots last year, but they haven’t made that happen this year yet at 1-for-4 for all three of them. Gillis averaged 2.6 attempts a game last season, while Furst and Morton were down below one try per contest.
Bigs? Does Zach Edey count as two bigs? After averaging 14.4 points and 7.7 rebounds in 19.0 minutes a game last season, the 7’4”, 290 pound Canadian has been an absolute terror on the interior for the Boilermakers. 21.0 points and 14.0 rebounds per game are his stats, oh, yeah, and 3.5 blocks per game as well. That’s not “oh well, he really ruined one team to have fancy average” stuff, either. Edey went for 12 points and 17 rebounds in 25 minutes against Milwaukee in the opener, and followed that up with 30 points and 11 rebounds in a 58 possession game against Austin Peay. Purdue only scored 63 points in that one, and Edey had nearly half of them. In fairness, his blocks average is tilted because he recorded six against Milwaukee and just one against Austin Peay.
He’s not the only large gentleman on the roster, either. Caleb Furst measures in at 6’10” and 230 pounds, while freshman Will Berg is 7’2” and 260 pounds. Furst has come off the bench in both games for Purdue, and is averaging 6.0 points and 5.5 rebounds. Berg, who hails from Sweden, has yet to play in a game this season, so for now at least, the Golden Eagles have to guess that he’s not going to be doing much on Tuesday night.
Head Coach: Matt Painter, noted Purdue alumnus, in his 18th season with the Boilermakers and 19th as a Division 1 head coach thanks to one season at Southern Illinois. He has a record of 386-192 at Purdue and 411-197 overall. He has guided the Boilermakers to each of the last seven NCAA tournaments, although they would have missed the field if there was a 2020 tournament.
All Time Series: NOT GREAT. Marquette is 1-9 against Purdue all-time after beating the Boilermakers, 65-55, in Milwaukee in 2019 as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games. The Golden Eagles trailed by EIGHTEEN at one point in that one, ripped off a 13-2 run spanning halftime to make it competitive, and then closed the thing out on a 16-3 burst. FUN FACT: Koby McEwen’s second half output in that game beat the entire Purdue roster, 18-17. The most memorable game in series history came back in 1969. MU lost that encounter in the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament on a last second shot by Rick Mount.
What To Watch For: It would seem that Marquette’s best angle of advantage in this game is going to be team speed. While there is a whole bunch of preseason projection mixed into KenPom.com’s tempo numbers at this point of the year, the fact of the matter is that Marquette and Purdue are on opposite sides of the spectrum right now. KP says that the Boilermakers are ranked #316 in the country in pace of play, while the Golden Eagles are up at #8. There’s a difference of seven possessions a game in there, 68.6 to 75.6.
That means MU is going to have a natural disposition to play faster than Purdue, and the Boilermakers have been trending towards the slower side of the universe over the past several seasons dating back to the mid-2010s anyway. If Shaka Smart is going to tend towards a fast and furious pace anyway, then it’s probably in MU’s best interest to absolutely put the pedal to the metal. Facts are facts: Zach Edey is Purdue’s best player. Fletcher Loyer and Brandon Newman are both averaging north of 10 points a game, and that’s good. There’s four non-Edey guys averaging at least four rebounds a game through two contests, and that’s good, too. But Edey is what makes things go for Purdue, and there’s one unavoidable truth about him: It takes a lot of energy to move a 7’4”, 290 pound body up and down the court. The faster Marquette goes, the more Edey has to move, and the quicker he’s going to need to get off the court to take a breather.
This also means that Oso Ighodaro is going to carry a big load in this game. He’s going to have to figure out a way to defend Edey without committing fouls, and that’s probably going to be really hard to do in the environment of Mackey Arena, largely considered to be one of the most oppressive road environments in the country. There is a flipside of the coin though. Remember when you’ve seen Ighodaro going iso with the ball from outside the arc? Either driving to the rack or just getting to the middle to distribute to a shooter? Remember that highlight that we put into his Player Preview where he threw a no-look bounce pass to Chase Ross for a baseline drive and stuff? Yeah, that’s the flipside. I’m wagering that Ighodaro’s got a speed and agility advantage on Edey, and if he can use that to his advantage, both to drive past him or just drag him out of the middle in general, that’s going to go a long way towards Marquette pulling off the upset here.