However, the reality is: Purdue remains a bit of a mystery to the college basketball world. Is this a team that's taking strides to an NCAA Tournament berth, or one that has survived scares from middling mid-majors? The Boilermakers' first five games have left some question marks.
Right now, the only way we can judge this team is putting it statistically against its Big Ten foes, which have largely played a similar schedule.
Boiler Sports Report breaks down how Purdue stacks up statistically:
Purdue: 86.2 PPG; Big Ten Ranking: 3rd
To post a mark of 86.2 points per game, ranking third in the Big Ten, is quite impressive—even against mid-major opponents. But the way it has been accomplished makes it unique. Purdue's leading scorer is Ronnie Johnson, whose 13.8 points per game, while respectable, ranks 16th in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers have spread the scoring, with three posting a double-figure total (Terone Johnson at 13.0 PPG; Bryson Scott at 10.6 PPG) and three others averaging more than seven points per game.
Throughout the offseason, coach Matt Painter touted his team's depth. Five games into the season, the numbers prove this claim. One could argue that Terone Johnson and A.J. Hammons need to raise their scoring totals, but a team is better with numbers like Purdue claims. A player can have an off night and know a teammate will pick up the slack.
Purdue: 70.8 PPG; Big Ten Ranking: 11th
For this Purdue team, defense was supposed to make up for scoring struggles. It's something the team talked about for much of the offseason. But the script has flipped through five games. Purdue's scoring defense is second-to-last in the Big Ten, a 70.8 mark. It's something that has to improve.
Fortunately for the Boilermakers, their scoring has been superb, as detailed above. When you take it game by game, the issues on defense become more alarming. There have been far too many mistakes—shooters being left alone, open lanes to the hoop, etc. It hasn't cost Purdue a win yet, but this could change if not corrected. The greatest concern is how Purdue's fouling issues—largely due to the new contact rules—have led opponents to far too many free throws. The 70.8 number will fall as this young team grows, but this needs to happen sooner than later.
Free Throw Shooting
Purdue: 62 Percent; Big Ten Ranking: 12th
This is where we meet the most shocking, concerning statistic of Purdue's young season. The Boilermakers' 62.3 percent from the charity stripe is dead last in the Big Ten. Purdue owned the lowest average before Sunday's game, and managed to sink it even lower by missing 16 free throws against Siena. On the season, Purdue has missed on 55 free throw attempts—consider three of its five games have been decided by 10 points or fewer.
Free throws are about repetition in practice and concentration in games. For whatever reason, it's just not working yet for Purdue. The shots aren't falling and it's a major concern. In these first five games, the poor shooting at the line has kept Purdue from blowing out inferior foes. In the games ahead against better opponents, it will cost the Boilermakers wins.
Field Goal Percentage
Purdue: 48.4 Percent; Big Ten Ranking: 3rd
The Boilermakers' high mark of 48.4 percent shooting from the field, third in the Big Ten, is a testament to smart decisions. For a team with so many newcomers working to mesh as one team, a high field goal percentage shows that it's all clicking. The freshmen and fifth-year seniors aren't hesitating with their shots, and they're producing points. This, subsequently, makes life better for a Terone Johnson and A.J. Hammons.
This number could easily be much lower, one of the lowest in the Big Ten. The newcomers could be struggling to find a rhythm while the veterans suffer as a result. But the hard work and constant repetition in practice has shown for these Boilermakers. It's very encouraging to see these scoring figures where they currently stand.
Purdue: 31.1 Percent; Big Ten Ranking: 10th
So, Purdue's field goal percentage ranks third in the Big Ten, yet its shooting from beyond the arc is a meager 31.1 percent, good for 10th in the conference. This can be seen as a statistical anomaly, but it's something that needs to be corrected soon.
There's not much more that can be said other than the shots aren't falling now and likely will as time goes on. Freshman sharp-shooter Kendall Stephens leads Purdue with 11 three-pointers, but the next closest is Sterling Carter with just five, coming on 24 attempts. Meanwhile, go-to scorer Terone Johnson has hit on just two of his 12 from outside the perimeter. The Boilermakers need their three-point shooting to improve, and it has to happen soon with a tough stretch approaching.
Purdue: +2.4; Big Ten Ranking: 9th
Given Purdue's high field goal percentage, is rebounding margin should be much better than a +2.4 mark. In fact, consider that the Boilermakers are putting out elite talent in their front court, with A.J. Hammons and Jay Simpson, going against undersized mid-major opponents. There's no excuse for this figure not being higher.
To put it in perspective, Indiana, the Big Ten's leader in this statistic, is at a +16.3 margin, and that's with two games against major-conference opponents. Illinois and Iowa each have a rebounding margin above double-figures, too. The Boilermakers need to be better on the boards.
Purdue: 1.4 (76/55); Big Ten Ranking: 6th
Assist-to-turnover ratio is always a difficult statistic to read. The 76 assists are very encouraging, especially considering Purdue has a sophomore and freshman running the point this season. That being said, the 55 turnovers in five games are far too many. Turnovers were a problem for Purdue last season, and the trend hasn't slowed down much.
Frankly, it's hard to decipher whether the assists will rise and the turnovers will fall. You can point the high assists on an overall efficiency on offense and pin the turnovers on early-season gaffes. Being sixth in the Big Ten isn't bad, but it could be better.