March Madness 2023: Purdue left searching for answers after another devastating exit from NCAA Tournament

No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson’s takedown of No. 1 seed Purdue on Friday was the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history. The Knights downed the Boilermakers as 23-point underdogs to become just the second No. 16 seed to ever defeat a No. 1 seed. And yet as shocking as it may be, for Boilermakers fans it’s another all-too-familiar postseason letdown under coach Matt Painter.

With four regular-season Big Ten titles since 2010, Purdue has been one of the best teams in the Big Ten from November to February. However, regular-season success and favorable seeds in the Big Dance have not translated to a Final Four, much less a title appearance or a national title. Rather, they have led to shocking early exits. Purdue has made a nasty habit of falling flat on its face instead of advancing deep in the bracket. The loss to FDU marked the Boilers’ third straight loss at the hands of a double-digit seed; previously, they fell to No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s in the Sweet 16 and were bounced by No. 13 seed North Texas in the first round the year before that. 

To question Painter’s credentials as a tactician would be to question the writing style of Charles Dickens or the entrepreneurship of Thomas Edison — seriously, good luck! — but the NCAA Tournament disappointments under Painter have stacked up in recent years culminating with arguably the worst loss of his career.

How does it keep happening? Is it a Painter problem? A Purdue problem? Did the Boilermakers in another life curse the basketball gods? Painter did his darndest to sum it up succinctly in his post-game press conference. 

“Well, today, the form within our system in terms of recruiting is to have the balance of great bigs with skill [around them],” he said. “This wasn’t something for us that was just today. It’s frustrating. It kind of just mounted for us and got worse at times. I think we shot one out-of-rhythm 3, maybe another one. But the…


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Author : Kyle Boone

Publish date : 2023-03-18 05:16:23

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