When: Friday, March 18
Time: 7:20 ET
The Purdue Boilermakers start their road to Houston and the Final Four with a first round game against the St Peter's Peacocks at the United Center on Friday night. Purdue has limped into the tournament, with a loss in their season finale against Iowa and a loss to Michigan St in the quarterfinals of the Big 10 Tournament. Purdue has also had to deal with some off the court trouble. Guard Kelsey Barlow was suspended from the club for "conduct detrimental to the team" and fellow guard Ryne Smith had a concussion in practice early in the week, but has been cleared and should be good to go at gametime. Even with all of the off the court turmoil, the Boilermakers still received a 3 seed in the Southwest region of the NCAA Tournament and have a legitimate shot to match or surpass their Sweet 16 run that the Boilermakers made last year.
St. Peters got an automatic bid to the tournament by winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, breaking a 3 year run by Siena. The Peacocks are 20-13 on the year and finished 11-7 in conference play. St Peters is very good offensively, as they rank 19th in offensive efficiency. However, the Peacocks are ranked a horrid 275th in defensive efficiency just scoring 94.8 points per 100 possessions, according to Kenpom. They are led by 6-2 guard Wesley Jenkins, who scores 12.8 points per game and grabs about 5 rebounds per game. A major problem in this matchup is that the tallest player for the Peacocks who gets substantial playing time is 6'7 forward Ryan Bacon, which will make it extremely difficult for the Peacocks frontline to contain Big Ten Player of the Year JaJuan Johnson.
Prediction: With the off the court problems and the back-to-back losses coming into the tournament, expect coach Matt Painter to have no problems in getting the Boilermakers prepared and ready for this 2nd round (really NCAA) game and Purdue gets up early and often and rolls to a convincing victory. Purdue 71, St Peters 49