Sunday, February 10, 2008

Boiler Up!

(24) Purdue 72, (8) Wisconsin 67

3 weeks ago we weren't even getting votes towards a ranking. We snuck into the #24 position (AP poll, still not ranked on USA Today/ESPN poll) last weekend. And now, we have earned the sole spot on top of the Big Ten (well, technically tied with Indiana with 1 loss each, but we have more wins).

For a freshman-heavy team, these Boilers are having an awesome run:

  • Best conference start in 20 years

  • On track to win first conference title since 1996 (their fate is in their hands)

  • Last beat a Top 10 team on the road in 1998 (against MSU)

  • Last won in Wisconsin in 1996

  • Ended Wisconsin's home winning streak at 16

  • Handed Wisconsin only it's 3rd home loss against Big Ten teams under Bo Ryan (first two were both Illinois, so only the second team to do so)

  • Swept the following schools in conference play so far: Iowa, Illinois, Penn State, Wisconsin

Awesome, awesome, awesome. My prediction for this year was for them to win 5 more games than last year, and make it to the Elite 8 in the tournament. I believe I have (inaccurately) called this 30 wins, but last year they were 20-10. They are currently 19-5, so I need 6 wins in the remaining 7 games for that part to be right. The remaining schedule isn't easy, but short of a complete meltdown, we ought to make it into the tournament.

Even the losses have been close. Of the 5, the worst was by 10 points to Missouri. The rest have all been by 3 points, including the embarrassing loss at home to Wofford (seriously....WTF??), at then-#18 Clemson, and at then-#6 Michigan State - and that game was played without star freshman Robbie Hummel. So we're just a handful of baskets away from being only a 1-loss team overall, and probably the talk of the nation.

I'm so proud of this team. Coach Painter has done a fantastic job since taking the reigns, and his recruits have really stepped up to the plate and delivered. This team is going to be scary-good over the next couple of years.

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