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2017 NCAA Tournament Preview: #4 Purdue vs. #5 Iowa State

The Boilermakers look to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2010.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Purdue vs Vermont Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Boilermakers haven’t made it to the Sweet 16 since 2010, when they were edged by eventual champs Duke in a game that they played without their star forward Robbie Hummel. Purdue has made it to the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons, but lost in the opening round both times after a lengthy streak of not losing in the opening round under Matt Painter.

Now Purdue is set to face a hot Iowa State team that is 10-1 their last 11 games, knocking off West Virginia twice, Baylor and winning the Big 12 conference tournament this past weekend. The Cyclones have had an impressive return to form after a rough opening to the season that saw the team sitting at 14-9 (6-5) after a dreadful road loss to Texas.

#4 Purdue vs. #5 Iowa State

  • Time/TV: 09:40 pm E.T. TBS
  • Spread: Purdue (-1)

The opening win over Vermont was basically the Vincent Edwards show. While Edwards stole the show with 21 points on 10 of 16 shooting, also making plenty of key non-scoring plays throughout the night, the junior still some help from his teammates. Of course the highly touted Caleb Swanigan once again recorded another double-double, adding 16 points and 14 rebounds. At times Swanigan wasn’t always prominent, but there were plenty of moments throughout the second half were he simply dominated Vermont.

Even more important for Purdue was their backcourt also came to play. Between Dakota Mathias, P.J. Thompson and Carsen Edwards, the trio went 7 of 15 from deep and were shooting the ball effectively. That’s important because one of the biggest improvements Purdue saw this season was their shooting from beyond the arc, with the team struggling when they can’t convert from outside. If Purdue can light it up from deep, with their frontcourt as good as it is, it’ll be very hard to beat them.

That being said, the Boilermakers will need more from 7’2” center Isaac Haas. His stat line wasn’t that bad if you go by the box score, collecting 8 points and 6 rebounds in 16 minutes, but Haas had a decisive size advantage down low and was missing layups, turning the ball over and struggling considerably. If that happens once again in today’s outing that could mean curtains for Purdue, who will need more from their imposing center.

Purdue’s opponent, Iowa State, will bring one of the most potent offenses the Boilermakers have seen this season. The Cyclones shot 47.1% from the field this season (48th), hit 40.3% of their threes (13th) and average 81.0 points per game. In what is a polar opposite from the Boilermakers, the Cyclones rely on their backcourt and see almost all of the production come from their guards.

Throughout the season Iowa State has four players averaging double figures, with every one of these players being a guard. They also eat up most of the minutes, averaging 29 to 35 minutes per game (no one else has more than 17.4). Highlighting the group is Monte Morris, who is averaging 16.4 points on 46.4% shooting while also adding 6.1 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game. Senior sharpshooter Matt Thomas is a serious threat from deep, hitting 44.4% of his 5.8 three pointers per game.

I mentioned Iowa State relies on their guards and I wasn’t kidding. The next four guys up when it comes to scoring and minutes include two more guards, including Donovan Jackson (who hits over 45% from deep), and a pair of forwards that measure in at 6’7” and 6’8” respectively.

At the end of the day this will be a match between two teams that will field completely different lineups. While Purdue has put a ton of emphasis on their size advantage and dominating frontcourt, Iowa State will likely start four guards and showcase a small ball lineup. While the speed and smaller backcourt could cause some problems for Purdue, Swanigan and Haas should have their way inside as Iowa State’s starting forward Solomon Young measures in at 6’8”. The only other forward to play in their opening win against Nevada was Darrell Bowie, a 6’8” senior that transferred in from Northern Illinois.

Overall

In one corner we have a Purdue team that, while proving to be a capable three point shooting team, likes to take advantage of their size and work teams inside. Utilizing one of the nation’s top players in Caleb Swanigan, with 7’2” monster Isaac Haas spelling him, it’s one of Purdue’s biggest advantages.

In the other corner we have a Cyclones teams that likes to bring out a four guard lineup, play fast and shoot plenty of threes. While undersized and likely set to struggle down low, Iowa State will look to attack the perimeter and use their speed to create problems for Purdue.

The key here is if Purdue can play to their potential. If Swanigan and Haas have good nights, it’s going to create issues for the Cyclones inside. If that happens Purdue will likely only need their backcourt to take care of business from outside, while seeing guys like Dakota Mathias stick to their man on the perimeter. Purdue has had issues at times leaving opposing teams open beyond the arc and if they do that tonight it’s going to be a rough night for Matt Painter and company.

When all is said and done this game is the typical Purdue game outlook. Play to their potential and they should win this game. Have an off night like they’ve had several times throughout conference play? Well then the Cyclones will advance. I think Purdue is set to take care of business at least one more time this season, and should be fully capable of reaching the Sweet 16.

Pick Against the Spread: Purdue