A lot of college basketball teams are eagerly anticipating March 17, but not Purdue.
You see that date is like Christmas to college basketball teams around the country because it’s Selection Sunday when the NCAA Tournament bracket is unveiled.
Usually the Boilermakers look forward to it, too, but not this time around. That’s because Purdue will be on the outside looking in. Being left out of the field won’t come as any surprise to the team from West Lafayette, Ind. It has known its NCAA Tournament fate for quite some time, having hovered around .500 for most of the season.
We knew the 2012-13 season could be a long one for the Boilermakers since so many young players were going to have to be counted on in the post-Robbie Hummel Era.
Nonetheless, for Coach Matt Painter and all of Boilermaker Nation not being a participant in the Big Dance will sting … A LOT!
Purdue has played in each of the last six NCAA Tournaments. In fact, since 1980 the Boilermakers have played in the Big Dance 72 percent of the time (23 appearances in the last 32 years).
No doubt it’s a bitter pill to swallow for those Old Gold and Black fans, who will have to cope with their team not even making the NIT (a.k.a Not In Tournament).
After upsetting Wisconsin on Sunday, the Boilermakers still had a shot at finishing the regular season with a winning record, but an 80-75 home loss to seventh-ranked Michigan on Wednesday night solidified Purdue’s first losing regular season since 2005-06, which happened to be Painter’s first since taking over for legendary coach Gene Keady.
If the Boilermakers bow out early in Chicago, the site of this year’s conference tourney, as expected, you’ll hear Purdue fans say, “Wait until next year.”
And next year the Boilermakers should be much improved, considering they lose just one starter – D.J. Byrd.
If players like leading scorer Terone Johnson, his brother Ronnie Johnson, the starting point guard, 7-footer A.J. Hammons, who has the potential to be an NBA Lottery pick, work extremely hard in the summer, Purdue should definitely be an upper division Big Ten team and could even challenge Michigan State for the title.
For now, though, that’s little solace for Purdue fans, who are only left this postseason with cheering for early exits in both the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments for their hated rival to the south Indiana.
Doug Griffiths is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association. Doug is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ISLgriffiths and Facebook.