I’m just going to say this—there is no way the Indiana University basketball team is the 14th (AP) best team in the nation. And there is no way Purdue should be as low as 21st (AP).
We all know polls at this time of the season are farcical. No team worth its salt has played a team that it shouldn’t beat by 40 points. Incarnate Woods? Anyone? Who is that?
But the purpose of these games is to:
1. Let your team feel good about itself
2. Work out the kinks
(and probably most important)
3. Pad your win total
In theory, your team should be ready to play good competition and get into league play within two weeks before said team is actually tested in battle.
IU has a nice team. A couple of experienced point guards, some stable players on the wing, and a real talent in the middle with freshman Thomas Bryant. As the season develops and as Bryant develops, IU will get stronger, but its bench strength will prove to be a weakness.
Pollsters are giving IU a lot of respect on hopes and wishes. I think IU is a top-25 team, just not upper echelon—yet.
Purdue, on the other hand, has most starters back. They have two very talented 7-footers in Isaac Haas and A.J. Hammons and a bench full of players that could be starting elsewhere in the Big Ten. Untested but talented freshman Caleb Swanigan, swing man Vince Edwards, and the clog in the middle, Haas, have been destroying their competition so far. Bench play and depth are a strength for Purdue. They go 10 deep and could have two starting rotations like Kentucky did last season. But even despite this, Purdue gets no ranking love.
This weekend should prove interesting for both teams. IU has the tougher tournament in Maui. But it’s in Maui. So they won’t be suffering too much. That tournament features Kansas, Vanderbilt, UCLA, UNLV, Wake Forest, and St. John’s.
Purdue plays in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament against Old Dominion Saturday at noon. Other teams in this championship are Florida, NC A&T, Niagara, Saint Joseph’s, Vermont, and Buffalo.
If IU wins the Maui Tournament, then I will concede they are an upper-tier team. Purdue, if it would be victorious, would probably break the top 20. Any way you go, in a season with these high expectations for all state teams, it will make for captivating viewing.