Purdue was on track to be a No. 1 seed in this tournament.
However, after Robbie Hummel popped an ACL, that hope was lost... and many believed the Boilermakers' NCAA Tournament hopes were lost as well.
Those people (this writer very much included, it must be said) underestimated the heart of this Purdue team. With Robbie Hummel out, the Boilers needed some of their role players to step up, and step up they did. Keaton Grant scored 11 points in a 15-0 run that blew open a close game against Siena last Friday in the first round. Chris Kramer scored seven of his 17 points in a 17-2 run that erased an 11-point Texas A&M lead, and eventually hit the game winning layup in overtime.
With all this having been said, though, Duke is a better team than either Texas A&M or Siena.
The Blue Devils have three very good scorers on their perimeter. Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith, and Jon Scheyer are all capable of getting 25 on a given night, and if those three all get going, Duke is a very difficult team to beat.
Purdue, even without Hummel, can still defend. Where the Boilermakers need to be careful is on the defensive glass.
You see, Hummel was their best rebounder. Without him, this is a small basketball team, at times having to essentially use Chris Kramer as a four (a power forward). For all of the complaints about Duke's big men, the one thing that group can do effectively is rebound at the offensive end. Brian Zoubek developed into a force on the glass by the end of the regular season. Miles and Mason Plumlee are both long and athletic and can get on the backboard, too. As good as Purdue center JaJuan Johnson is, he has never really been known as a top-notch rebounder.
If Purdue is going to advance further in this tournament, the biggest key is going to be limiting Duke to one shot.