Why Purdue Boilermakers Are Reaching Higher Ceiling Than Anticipated

Written By Eli Hershkovich on November 22, 2021 - Last Updated on November 23, 2021
Purdue Boilermakers

Before the college basketball season tipped off, I shared why the Purdue Boilermakers were added to my national title futures portfolio. After winning the Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament, let’s assess what Matt Painter’s team has exhibited thus far.

Purdue Boilermakers’ Star-Studded Cast

Following Purdue’s win over Villanova, it’s now the second-highest rated team in my college basketball power rankings. The Boilermakers went on a 34-20 run in the final nine minutes — sparked by two guard Jaden Ivey’s 10-point, seven-rebound and seven-assist performance. Their depth won out too, as they boast nine players who’ve started for Painter.

Over the first two weeks of the campaign, Painter’s starting five presents the second-best adjusted efficiency margin for lineups with at least 50 possessions (via EvanMiya). It’s tallying 1.61 points per possession (PPP) in the process. That level of success won’t continue come season’s end, but it proves why continuity is vital in a transfer-filled sport.

Painter toyed with Purdue’s starting unit, plugging in 7-foot-4 Zach Edey for the All-Big Ten forward Trevion Williams. Williams accrued the second-highest possession rate in the 2020-21 campaign. Considering Painter’s unwillingness to play the two together, Williams’ platoon role with Edey gifts the Boilermakers with the deepest frontcourt in the country.

Edey and Williams both sit in Ken Pomeroy’s top-10 college basketball player rankings — among the likes of Gonzaga’s Drew Timme and Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell.


Trevion Williams, No. 50, rises up to shoot a floater.

Moreover, Edey’s growth has allowed for 6-foot-10 freshman Caleb Furst to play off of him or Williams. Furst spaces the floor (44.4%), and his defensive awareness also stands out. Don’t forget about Isaiah Thompson nor Sasha Stefanovic, who are knockdown shooters off ball screens. In fact, Painter is running sets for Stefanovic similar to how he used Ryan Cline during Purdue’s 2019 Elite Eight run.

Ivey Blossoming Among The Elite

I’ve compared Ivey to former Baylor guard Davion Mitchell, who was a major cog on the Bears’ national championship team a season ago. Not only has Ivey transformed into a ballhawk, but he’s also generating a top-205 assist rate. Ivey is evolving into an elite playmaker, and his perimeter jumper looks refined too. He has takeover potential come March Madness.

After opening the season at +2200 to win the Wooden Award, Ivey is now priced at +700.

Where Boilermakers Must Improve

Despite Ivey’s prowess for forcing turnovers, Purdue still surrendered 1.23 PPP to both Villanova and North Carolina. Edey’s slow foot speed provides floor-spacing opponents with an opportunity to expose the Boilermakers’ three-point defense. Although Edey is an excellent rim protector, Painter adjusted and utilized Williams down the stretch in their win over the Wildcats.

If Purdue finds its way at that end of the floor, the Boilermakers will represent the premier team in college basketball.

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Eli Hershkovich

Eli Hershkovich is a lead sports betting writer with TheLines and Catena Media, formerly with Audacy and The Action Network. His goal is to provide you with data and information to lead you to winning bets. Eli is an avid college basketball gambler — among many other sports — and still hasn't forgiven Virginia for ruining his 2018-2019 Texas Tech futures.

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