Unofficial Ranking Of Purdue Men’s Basketball Championships

Time will tell where the 2023 Big Ten champion Purdue men’s basketball team ranks among the school’s 24 other title squads.

Purdue’s 25 championships are the most in conference history, three more than Indiana and five better than Wisconsin and Ohio State.

Here’s one man’s rankings of the previous 24 Boilermaker Big Ten championship teams.


Purdue won its first Big Ten championship in 29 years in impressive fashion, topping Illinois and Ohio State by four games. All-American guard Rick Mount’s 33.7 scoring average boosted the Boilermakers to the national scoring championship at 94.8 points per game. Only an all-time great UCLA team, led by Lew Alcindor (later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), stood between Purdue and a national championship.


National Player of the Year Glenn Robinson led the nation at 30.3 points a game and scored the winning basket at Michigan that delivered the first of three consecutive outright Big Ten championships for the Boilermakers.


Led by seniors Troy Lewis, Todd Mitchell and Everette Stephens, Purdue lived up to preseason expectations by rolling through the Big Ten at 16-2. The top-seeded Boilermakers routed Fairleigh Dickenson and Memphis State in South Bend, but their national championship dreams ended with a heartbreaking loss to Kansas State in the Sweet 16.


Purdue’s lone national basketball championship to date was inspired by Big Ten scoring champion John Wooden, a three-time consensus All-American guard. To his dying day, Wooden never forgot the lone loss that season. A car accident on the way to Illinois left Wooden with an injured right hand. Purdue would avenge that 28-21 loss a month later and finish 17-1 overall.


Seemingly on its way to Purdue’s first No. 1 ranking and an elusive Final Four berth, Robbie Hummel’s torn ACL at Minnesota dashed both of those dreams. The Boilermakers recovered enough to salvage a three-way tie with Ohio State and Michigan State.


Jerry West Award winner Carsen Edwards and fellow sharpshooter Ryan Cline teamed up with role players Nojel Eastern, Matt Haarms and Grady Eifert to earn a share of the Big Ten title with Michigan State. These Boilermakers came within a second of reaching the Final Four for the first time since 1980.


The only season two all-time college basketball greats, John Wooden and Charles “Stretch” Murphy played together. The 6-7 Murphy and Wooden led Purdue to the first undefeated conference season since Minnesota in 1919. Murphy claimed the third of three consecutive consensus All-America honors, and was joined on the consensus team by Wooden.


A three-way tie with eventual national champion Michigan State and Iowa earned the Boilermakers a berth … in the NIT. At the time, only two teams per conference were allowed in the NCAA tournament, and the Hawkeyes’ season sweep gave them the second nod. Future All-American center Joe Barry Carroll blossomed under first-year coach Lee Rose, leading the Big Ten at 23.8 points per game and second in rebounding at 10.1.


An impressive front court of All-American Caleb Swanigan, 7-2 center Isaac Haas and Vincent Edwards powered the Boilermakers to a two-game edge over Wisconsin and Maryland.


One of several “what might have been” teams in the Keady era. Having wrapped up the Big Ten title, third-ranked Purdue was demolished at Michigan 104-68 on the final day of the season. Co-champion Indiana, instead of Purdue, was assigned to Indianapolis by the NCAA tournament committee to start its path toward a fifth national championship. Purdue was sent to Syracuse, N.Y. and lost in the second round to Florida.


Picked to finish ninth in the then 10-team Big Ten, Purdue shared the championship with Illinois at 15-3. Jim Rowinski was named Big Ten Player of the Year and Gene Keady won his first national coach of the year award.


Seniors Cuonzo Martin and Matt Waddell, fathers to current Boilermakers Chase Martin and Brian Waddell, plus future NBA All-Star center Brad Miller led Purdue to the first consecutive outright Big Ten titles in school history.


Chad Austin, Brandon Brantley and Brad Miller spurred the Boilermakers to the championship by three games over Penn State and Indiana.


Piggy Lambert’s last Big Ten championship team topped Indiana by one game thanks to a comeback victory at Illinois on the final day. Fatefully, Lambert declined an invitation to the second annual NCAA tournament. The bid went to Indiana, which claimed the first of five national championships.


“We won it the hard way,” Piggy Lambert said after his team prevailed 42-39 at Northwestern to finish 18-2 overall and edge Wisconsin by one game at 10-2. Two-time consensus All-American Jewell Young wrapped up his second Big Ten scoring title.


The smallest team by height in the Big Ten packed a scoring punch on the way to a 10-2 mark and a two-game edge over Wisconsin and Northwestern. Purdue set a Big Ten record with 512 points (nearly 43 points a game). Norman Cottom earned consensus All-America honors.


The beginning of a golden era of Purdue basketball. Murphy helped the Boilermakers win at Minnesota in the season finale to match Indiana at 10-2 as well as identical 15-2 overall records.


All-American forward George Spradling won his second Big Ten scoring title while leading the Boilermakers to a share of the championship at 8-4 with Indiana, Michigan and Iowa.


A victory at Northwestern on the final day gave the Boilermakers a tie with Illinois and Wisconsin at 9-3. Forward Bob Kessler earned first-team All-Big Ten honors.


Purdue rallied from a 13-point halftime deficit at Michigan, earning a share of the title with Indiana at 11-1 thanks to a pair of free throws from Kessler to claim a 38-37 victory. Kessler earned consensus All-America honors.


The first of Piggy Lambert’s 11 Big Ten championship teams were led by All-American guards Donald White and Ray Miller. White led the Big Ten in scoring, and the Boilermakers shared the title with Michigan and Wisconsin at 8-4.


The first outright Big Ten championship team once again was led by Miller. The Boilermakers went 8-1 in conference play and 15-3 overall.


Undefeated in Big Ten play, Purdue ended up with a share of the championship with Wisconsin despite playing two fewer conference games. Center Ed McVaugh and guard Karp Stockton earned first-team All-Big Ten honors.


The first of many outstanding big men, All-Big Ten center David Charters, led Purdue to its first league title.

News and thoughts

Hopefully, Purdue junior center Zach Edey’s family home in Canada has room for all the honors coming his way.

Edey became the first Boilermaker since Glenn Robinson in 1994 to claim national player of the year honors when The Sporting News made their announcement Wednesday. Earlier, Edey was named first-team All-America. The Sporting News is one of four organizations recognized by the NCAA to determine consensus All-America honors.

On Tuesday, Edey became Purdue’s fifth conference-awarded Big Ten Player of the Year. He joins the late Caleb Swanigan (2017), JaJuan Johnson (2011), Robinson (1994) and Steve Scheffler (1990).

Edey and Michigan’s Chris Webber are the only two Big Ten players in the past 30 years to have at least 600 points, 350 rebounds and 50 blocked shots in a season. Edey goes into the postseason averaging 21.9 points, 12.8 rebounds and a national-best 23 double-doubles.

He’s only the second player in Big Ten history to lead the league in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage (.611). The other was Ohio State’s Gary Bradds in 1963-64. …

The Big Ten coaches and media got it right with Edey and Indiana’s Jalen Hood-Schifino winning Freshman of the Year honors. As for coach of the year, not so much.

Just because Northwestern wasn’t its usual conference road kill doesn’t mean Chris Collins did the best coaching job. The honor should have gone to Matt Painter for winning a championship by three games after being picked to finish fifth or sixth in the preseason.

A 15-5 Big Ten record after losing an NBA lottery pick (Jaden Ivey), an All-American big man (Trevion Williams), its best 3-point shooter (Sasha Stefanovic) and a four-year regular (Eric Hunter)? Winning a championship with an all-freshman backcourt of Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer? No one saw this coming.

Smith was selected to the Big Ten All-Freshman team, and Loyer claimed honorable mention all-conference honors.

Smith, the 2022 Indiana Mr. Basketball from Westfield, averages 10 points, 4.2 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game. He is the first Purdue player since Troy Lewis in 1987-88 to average those numbers.

Loyer’s 11.6 scoring average and 54 3-pointers rank fourth among Big Ten freshmen. …

USA Today ranks Painter atop the list of college basketball’s most underpaid head coaches.

“In terms of pure bang for your buck in men’s college basketball, it’s hard to top the return on investment Purdue has found in longtime coach Matt Painter,” writer Paul Myerberg states.

Painter’s reported total compensation of $3.58 million for 2022-23 ranks 21st nationally and sixth in the Big Ten. Entering the Big Ten tournament, Painter owns a 408-197 record with 14 NCAA Tournament appearances and four Big Ten regular season titles.

-Kenny Thompson is the former sports editor for the Lafayette Journal & Cou¬rier and an award-winning journalist. He has covered Purdue athletics for many years.