Needless to say, this is an important week for the basketball team. It isn't always necessary, but a strong start to conference play normally lays the foundation for a successful season. Iowa is well-coached and has veteran players, but it will be nice to play them without school in session.
Illinois will provide a stern test on Saturday. Purdue will put a long homecourt winning streak on the line, and it was the Illini who had a 17-point lead at Mackey Arena last year before the Boilermakers rallied and finished the year unbeaten at home.
Penn State and Minnesota next, as Purdue opens with three of four on the road.
There's no sense in repeating myself, as most fans know where this team's problems lie. The health of Robbie Hummel and Lewis Jackson, improved post play and free throw shooting, and closing out games will dictate how far this team will travel in conference play.
Things haven't changed much since the beginning of the season. Ohio State is the best team in the league when Jared Sullinger is healthy. I think Michigan State is next. After that, take your choice. I really feel Purdue, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana can be lumped together. Teams that improve and win close games can possibly make a run.
Purdue's non-conference season was fine, in my opinion. It was disappointing to lose close games against Xavier and Butler when they should've been won. But, when looking for a silver lining, you don't build leads against those teams if you don't have potential.
I don't know if too many people noticed, but Butler lost at Gonzaga and won at Stanford after beating Purdue.
As far as tournament seeding is concerned, play well during the Big Ten seasons and it all takes care of itself.
First thing's first, you need to win at Iowa and then come home and beat Illinois. If we do that, we'll be off to a fine start. Get ready for the ride. It's about to begin!