Despite losing Caleb Swanigan to the NBA Draft this past season, the Boilermakers are more poised than ever to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. The returning trio of Carsen Edward, Vincent Edwards and Isaac Haas lead a group that can compete with any team in the nation on both ends of the floor.
What separates Purdue from the other Big Ten squads is their balance across the starting lineup. Haas is the traditional plodding big man that can block shots and knock down bunnies from the block. He’s surrounded by four capable shooters that can all handle the rock in spurts. Senior guards P.J. Thompson and Dakota Mathias remain two of the premier long ball shooters in Division I. Coming off a blowout loss to Kansas in the Sweet 16 last year, Purdue is ready to establish themselves as legit title contender.
23. West Virginia
Bob Huggins and “Press” Virginia return to annoy opposing players and fans all across the country. The feisty Mountaineers are an absolute nightmare to play against. Huggins is an expert at getting his players to buy into his system. WVU completely wears opponents down with their constant trapping and active hands. Offensively, they have their limitations — though they create turnovers at a rapid pace. This then allows them to earn extra possessions. When Jevon Carter is connecting from the field, they’re a serious threat.
The 2017 NBA Draft decimated a team that won 31 games last year, but the Bruins did a commendable job retooling by adding top recruits in Kris Wilkes and Jaylen Hands. Both freshman look to make an immediate impact in Westwood.
Retaining junior Aaron Holiday and senior Thomas Welsh was huge for their outlook this season. Holiday will take over the point guard duties as a shifty slasher with some playmaking ability. Welsh was a major contributor in 2017, and is as dependable as they come on the collegiate level. They don’t have the shooting of last year, but they’re loaded with athletes that will thrive in an up-tempo offense.
21. Seton Hall
Desi Rodriguez, Angel Delgado and Khadeen Carrington create arguably the best group of seniors in all of college basketball – and that’s not an exaggeration.
Rodriguez is an efficient wing that can bring the house down in transition. Delgado is a double-double machine with size, toughness and a soft touch around the basket. Carrington is a left-handed microwave that heats up an instant. They’ve been in big games, and haven’t succumbed to the pressure of the moment (2016 Big East title game against Villanova). It’s time for this team to break out and secure a signature win for a quality program.
Image Sources: Jeffrey Becker/USA TODAY Sports, Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports, Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports, Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports