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Fast Breaks: (8) Cincinnati vs. (9) Purdue
1:14 | College Basketball
Fast Breaks: (8) Cincinnati vs. (9) Purdue
Monday March 16th, 2015

As part of its preview of the 2015 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, SI.com is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. RPI and SOS data from realtimerpi.com. Adjusted offense and defense are from kenpom.com and measure the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and the team’s national rank. All stats are through Monday, March 16.

Record: 21-12 (12-6 in Big Ten)
RPI/SOS: 54/59
Adjusted offensive/defensive efficiency: 108.5 (57th)/97.1 (69th)
Seed: No. 9 in Midwest

Impact Player: A.J. Hammons, junior, center: 11.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.9 blocks per game

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The case for: This is another lunchpail Matt Painter Purdue team that, despite low expectations, won 21 games and finished tied for third in the Big Ten.

When the Boilermakers are at their best, they’re smothering people with their defense. They have limited foes to just 42.3% on two-pointers, the 17th best rate in the country, and they have the athletes to funnel everything to Hammons, a 7-footer who blocks just under three shots a game and helped Purdue lead the conference in that category.

Purdue also picked up some impressive wins this season, sweeping Indiana and beating Ohio State in conference play and defeating BYU, Iowa and North Carolina State in non-conference action. 

A.J. Hammons
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire

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The case against: In addition to those solid wins, Purdue has suffered some atrocious losses including non-conference defeats against Gardner-Webb and North Florida.

Hammons, the team’s best overall player, scorer, rebounder and defensive player, rarely plays more than 25 minutes and there often isn’t enough firepower on the floor to keep Purdue effective on the offensive end. It shot only 33.5% from three and 68.5% at the free throw line. To make matters worse, this was the worst team in the Big Ten at turning the ball over despite playing a moderate tempo (142nd adjusted pace per kenpom.com).

The Boilermakers simply don’t score well enough to be dangerous. To wit, they didn’t win a single game this year when giving up 70 or more points in regulation.

SI prediction: Beat Cincinnati in Round of 64, lose to Kentucky in Round of 32

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