You’ll have to excuse this post. It’s one of complete fanboyism, written while still under the influence of a nail-biting win and the 92 fluid ounces of Killian’s I had at Buffalo Wild Wings. If you don’t want to read my excited babbling, it can all be summed up in two words “Boiler up!” Remember a week ago when everyone was saying that Siena would be the only 14-seed to be favored in the first round? Remember how even President Obama had written Purdue off? Remember how the Big East was God’s gift to college basketball? It seems things have changed.
Purdue has earned its way back into a second consecutive Sweet 16. Like I had written last week, the Boilers needed the bench to step up. D.J. Byrd and Ryne Smith certainly earned their scholarships this weekend, although Patrick Bade made some solid contributions of his own. But it was senior Chris M.F. Kramer who really carried the team through the first two rounds. Kramer simply refused to let his career be over, and in a repeat of the game at Alabama in December, took the team on his shoulders at the end and carried them to victory.
Let’s be honest, it’s not all beautiful for Purdue. When JaJuan Johnson is shooting from the perimeter, there’s absolutely no one to get an offensive rebound. E’Twaun Moore scored 15 points, but was still 7 of 17 from the field. Point guards Lewis Jackson and Kelsey Barlow still make some really poor decisions at times. Despite all this, Purdue is still one of only 16 teams playing in the NCAA tournament at the end of the week. Very few people outside of the Purdue locker room and the loyal fans even considered this as a possibility. You know what? Some of us still believe that this Purdue team, without Robbie Hummel, could get past Duke and make it into the Elite 8. How’s that for a big middle finger to the “experts” who figured Purdue would lose in the first round?
While we’re on the subject of disrespect, which conference was supposed to be the best in the country? All season long we’ve heard about how the Big East is just leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of Division I basketball. The funny thing about the tournament is that it points out when people are full of crap. If you look at the teams in the Sweet 16, you’ll notice that there are three from the Big Ten, and only two from the Big East. Even that pathetic conference called the Pac-10, which we were told was barely worthy to even play basketball at all, has a team in the Sweet 16 (and an 11 seed at that!). So really, to all the experts out there (who will never read this), I cordially invite you to shut the hell up.
It’s also worth noting that the state of Indiana has two teams represented in the Sweet 16: Butler and Purdue. Both teams survived close games in the second round, but either or both of them could find themselves in the Elite 8. Considering how much basketball means to the state of Indiana, that is only fitting. Although I have a bit of a personal dislike for one of the Butler players, I’d be happy to see them keep progressing through the tournament, and I hope my Boilermakers do as well. All I know is that the moment Robbie Hummel’s ACL gave way, most of the country was done with Purdue. But not me, not the other loyal fans, not the coaches, and certainly not the players. Boiler up, and beat Duke on Friday!