History for the Boilermakers
The Purdue men’s basketball team reached unprecedented heights Monday by ascending to the peak of the Associated Press weekly rankings for the first time in school history.
Purdue (8-0) rose to the top from last week’s No. 2 ranking, the first time the Boilers reached No. 2 since the 1987-88 season when they opened that season ranked second. Eventually the ‘87-88 team got as far as the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament and ended the year with a 29-4 record.
While the No. 1 ranking is a big accomplishment, this Purdue team has higher goals for itself further down the road.
“It's great to be number one, but we want to win championships. That's what (this team’s) goals are,” said sophomore Mason Gilis after Purdue’s victory against Iowa on Friday.
The last time a Purdue team had this much hype around it early in the season was in ‘87, but lost to Iowa State in only the Boilers’ second game. After the loss to the Cyclones, the Boilers bounced back to win 16 in a row under then-coach Gene Keady and won the Big Ten championship.
Coach Lee Rose was at the helm the last time the Boilers made it to a Final Four in 1980, led by All-American center Joe Barry Carroll, but their highest AP ranking that season was eighth. Carroll ended up as the NBA’s top draft pick after the season.
The last Boilermaker squad to make it all the way to the National Championship game was in 1969, led by All-American guard Rick Mount. But in the AP rankings, the Boilers got no higher than a No. 6 ranking that season. The next year, In 1969-70, the Boilers got a No. 2 ranking, but didn’t win the Big Ten and missed the NCAA tournament.
Purdue’s first test as a No. 1 team will be against Rutgers in New Jersey on Thursday.