I had Purdue ranked third in the preseason Top 25 (and one).
Then Robbie Hummel tore his ACL.
Then I dropped the Boilermakers into the 20s. And I never returned them to the top 10 -- not even when they started 15-1, mostly because they had, at the time, zero quality wins. Also worth noting: I could never get over the loss of Hummel because I've spent a lot of time throughout the past year talking to Matt Painter about Hummel as a player and a person, and I know how much that coach values that player. Thus, I couldn't help but put a premium on Hummel, too. But in properly valuing Hummel I made the mistake of inadvertently undervaluing Painter, and that's a mistake that was highlighted with Wednesday's 70-62 win over Wisconsin and again during Sunday's 76-63 victory over Ohio State.
Consider this my mea culpa.
I was wrong about what's possible for the Boilermakers.
I was wrong because -- though I've always properly loved E'Twaun Moore -- I misjudged how good JaJuan Johnson would be this season and underestimated what Painter could do with a roster robbed of its perceived most important player. After Hummel's injury, I figured the Boilermakers would finish fifth in the Big Ten. But after Sunday's win over Ohio State, they're 22-5 overall, 11-3 in the Big Ten and second in the league standings.
Purdue couldn't finish fifth now if it lost each of its remaining games.
So, yeah, I was wrong.
The Boilermakers would've been great with Hummel.
Everybody knew that.
But what I've learned this week is that they're pretty darn good without him, too -- perhaps Final Four good.