While the Big Ten is generally considered the best conference in the nation, Purdue is starting to get some love in the rankings.
For the third time during the 2020-21 season, the Boilermakers (7-3, 2-1) received votes in one of the nation’s Top 25 polls this week. They received four points in the USA Today poll released Monday. In the preseason USA Today poll, Purdue had three points and it had one point last week. With votes this week, Purdue could be considered the No. 45 team in the nation.
USA Today has as its Top 5 teams as Gonzaga, Baylor, Villanova, Kansas and Houston. It has nine Big Ten teams among its Top 25, including: No. 7 Wisconsin, No. 11 Iowa, No. 13 Rutgers, No. 15 Michigan, No. 16 Illinois, No. 18 Michigan State, No. 20 Ohio State, No. 22 Northwestern and No. 24 (tie) Minnesota.
In this week's poll, Purdue failed to receive any points in the AP Top 25.
AP has the same Top 5 teams as USA Today, but in a different order. AP's Top 5 are: Gonzaga, Baylor, Kansas, Villanova and Houston. Among Big Ten teams, AP lists: No. 6 Wisconsin, No. 10 Iowa, No. 14 Rutgers, No. 15 Illinois, No. 16 Michigan, No. 17 Michigan State, No. 19 Northwestern, No. 21 Minnesota and No. 25 Ohio State.
Purdue earned nine points in last week's AP Top 25 poll, making it then tied for No. 35.
In ESPN's Basketball Power Index, which takes into account strength of schedule as well as how the team performs on various indicators, Purdue is No. 43. Baylor, Villanova, Iowa, Gonzaga and Tennessee are the Top 5 teams in that ranking.
Eleven of the Big Ten's 14 teams are among the Top 50 in the BPI.
The Boilermakers face two teams ranked in all of these polls this week. They pay at Rutgers (6-1, 2-1) at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Illinois at 6 p.m. Saturday.(7-3, 3-1). The games will be broadcast on FoxSports1 and the Big Ten Network respectively.
Purdue lost home-and-home games to both teams last season.
"I feel like this year we are lot more competitive," Sasha Stefanovic told the media on Monday. "We are able to accept the challenges that are ahead of us. And, just give it our all."
First up is the Rutgers Scarlet Knights challenge. They beat Purdue, 70-63 in Piscataway last season and 71-68 in West Lafayette.
"I really want to win this game because they had our number last year," Eric Hunter Jr. said on Monday.