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Why This Purdue Team Can Make a Deep Run in March Madness

Jan 2, 2024; College Park, Maryland, USA; Purdue Boilermakers center Zach Edey (15) celebrates with guard Fletcher Loyer (2) after making a basket during the second half against the Maryland Terrapins at Xfinity Center. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

After Purdue made a run to the Elite Eight in 2019, they have been plagued by a handful of first-round upsets. The most significant one was the loss to 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson last season.  However, Purdue returned most of its production from last season and made some improvements in the offseason. After these upgrades, there are now a few reasons why this Purdue team can make a deep run in March Madness.

Why This Purdue Team Can Make a Deep Run in March Madness

Freshman Maturation

Last season, two freshmen guards played significant minutes for the Boilermakers; Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer. While both players had a solid season, it was well-known that you could pressure them and force them into making mistakes. This was exposed in March Madness when Farleigh Dickinson could exploit the inexperienced guards.

This season, Loyer and Smith have improved significantly. The biggest improvement in each player’s game has been three-point shooting. Smith improved by ten percent and Loyer improved by eight percent. Smith has also improved as a facilitator, averaging almost two more assists per game this season. People always say experience wins in March, and having key players with another year under their belt will help Purdue make a deep run in March Madness.

More Scoring Options

Last season, after Zach Edey, scoring options were slim. The next best scorer was Loyer with 11 points per game. That was clearly proven to be inadequate. This year, the Boilermakers have a greater variety of scorers. Purdue has four players scoring in double figures. Edey, Smith, Loyer, and Lance Jones are all averaging over ten points per game. They also have Trey Kaufman-Rennwho is averaging eight points per game, but his value comes from his 50% three-point shooting percentage.

Improved Three-Point Shooting

As mentioned earlier, Purdue has improved from beyond the arc this year. Last year, as a team, the Boilermakers shot 32% from three, ranking them 273rd in the country. This year, they are shooting 39% from three, which is eleventh in the country.

The Boilermakers have five players shooting over 40% from three, and three of those players are shooting over 50%. Mason Gillis has seen the most improvement on his three-point shot, going from 35% last season to 53% this season. That is truly an incredible increase and will be very helpful if Purdue wants to make a deep run in March.

Zach Edey is Zach Edey

After winning the National Player of the Year award, it was expected that we would see some regression from Edey. But this has not been the case—we have actually seen quite a few improvements. He is shooting a higher field goal and free throw percentage, averaging more assists, steals, and blocks this season, and scoring at the same rate. He has also seen fewer turnovers this season. Overall, Edey has made many slight improvements in his game that can help Purdue win a title.

The Last Word

Last year, Purdue relied almost exclusively on Zach Edey to win them games. This year, they are a much more balanced team that has matured. They have had many big wins and are playing with confidence. Even if they get an unfavorable draw, this Purdue team can make a deep run in March Madness.


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