Matt Painter admitted he played the "what if" game.
As in what if junior Robbie Hummel didn't get injured? Would Painter's Purdue team be playing in the Final Four in Indianapolis this weekend?
"It's difficult and it's frustrating," Painter said during the final teleconference of the season Wednesday. "But it's part of life and part of competitive sports. You move on. We still have a great opportunity in front of us. We didn't cave in to what people thought about us. We kept playing and fighting and winning games. I think that's something to really build on."
Still, Painter can offer a unique familiarity with the teams in the Final Four.
Purdue played three of them this season: Michigan State, West Virginia and Duke.
The Boilermakers split games with the Spartans, beat West Virginia and lost to the Blue Devils last week in the Sweet 16. With Butler being in-state, Painter also knows the Bulldogs well.
"All four teams are good basketball teams," Painter said. "I don't think anybody has an overpowering superstar on their team that is going to cause anybody to play any different or depend any differently than they would before. So I think what you'll see from each team is what you've seen the entire year. There's not somebody in the tournament that forces you to change. But I think the value of each team really lies in how well they play together."
Painter said he's looking forward to the matchups.
First up, his breakdown of Michigan State vs. Butler.
"I think they're going to be very good games," Painter said. "I think the Michigan State-Butler game will probably be a low-scoring game. It's probably going to be a race to 60. If somebody can get 60 points in that game, they're going to win. Sometimes you don't know. You predict a certain type of tempo. Butler will push, but they're selective. If it's there, they go. If they get a wide-open shot in transition, they take it. But if not, they make you play and break down. They've proven how efficient they are.
"Michigan State, one of their qualities is the fact they can play a couple different ways. They can play in the half court. They can play in the full court. They can play smash mouth and beat you on the glass. But Butler doesn't get the credit they deserve for how tough they are and how good a defensive team they are."
South Region top seed Duke vs. No. 2 West Virginia is the second semfinal Saturday night.
"The tougher team is going to win there, whoever that might be," Painter said. "Duke has really gained an advantage from their ability to rebound. West Virginia has the personnel to keep them off the glass. Whether they do that or not will be another story. But West Virginia can also turn it on Duke and beat them on the glass with their athleticism and quickness. (Da'Sean) Butler is going to be an interesting matchup for Duke because he's been their X factor and can make big-time shot. Getting him shut down and limiting his touches will be important."