Why the Boilermakers are perhaps the favorite.

With return of E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson and a healthy Robbie Hummel, Purdue should at worst be a preseason favorite to be in Houston next April.

Here is why:

They are elite defensively. Purdue forces turnovers and limits field goal percentage, particularly inside the 3 point line. The only concern here is they can give up a few too many offensive rebounds and they now have lost Kris Kramer and Keaton Grant on the perimeter. Still, I find it difficult to envision many better defensive teams next season. Purdue had the 23rd best turnover rate in the country and 8th best field goal percentage on two point attempts, leading to the overall #3 defense according to Kenpom.

They protect the ball. Purdue was 12th best nationally in securing the ball. Lewis Jackson, E’Twaun Moore and Kelsey Barlow return in the back court. It should remain a strength of their offense.

They’re big 3 is the best big 3. Hummel, Johnson and Moore combined for 48 points a game last season. They also all shoot the ball well from the floor.

Robbie Hummel is a collegiate stud. Before his season ending injury, Hummel posted numbers of 16 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists while shooting 46% from the floor and 36% from 3. He simply does not turn the ball over, leading to a great offensive rating of 122, which was amongst the elite in college hoops this past year. He is able to score within the flow of the offense and share the ball. As a senior he should emerge as a front runner for POY.

They have a big. And this is something that the majority of college basketball teams just don’t have. No, JaJuan is not strong, and he may shoot too many jump shots, but he is a presence, specifically on the defensive end where he anchors the defense.

Seniors. No value can be placed on experience, and Purdue has a lot of it. They will likely start 3 seniors and a junior, with the last spot to be determined. We need not look past this years Duke to see the impact of experienced players. Experience leads to consistency. Consistency leads to wins in March.

Are Duke and Michigan State the likely media darlings next season? Yes. Should Purdue be right there with them? Absolutely. They have a guard, a wing and a big man, all being seniors. If they are not in Houston next April, I will be incredibly surprised.

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