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NCAA Tournament Preview: No. 2 Purdue Boilermakers vs. No. 10 Butler Bulldogs

Purdue takes on in-state foe Butler with a spot in the Sweet 16 on the line

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round: Purdue Boilermakers vs. Cal State Fullerton Titans Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

What was supposed to be a walk-through weekend for Purdue had a rather large wrinkle thrown into it. With the availability of Isaac Haas in question, the 2-seeded Boilermakers will have a much harder challenge than expected when they take on the 10-seeded Butler Bulldogs in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament at Little Caesars Arena.

The Boilermakers take on Butler with a chance to advance to the Sweet 16 on the line.

No. 2 Purdue Boilermakers vs. No. 10 Butler Bulldogs

  • Time/TV: 12:10 p.m./CBS
  • KenPom Spread: Purdue (3.5)

How will the lack of Haas effect Purdue

The availability of Purdue’s senior center Isaac Haas is up in there. After taking a hard fall to the court and after the Boilermakers ran away against the Titans of CS Fullerton, the school announced that Haas would miss the remainder of the tournament with a fractured elbow. Then perceptions of his health changed Saturday morning.

It was reported that Haas practiced with the rest of his team Saturday morning while wearing a brace around his elbow. For him to be eligible to play the brace would first need to be cleared by the NCAA. And if he is the question then becomes how effective can he really be with a fractured elbow on his dominant hand.

Expect freshman Matt Haarms to get the nod in the starting lineup. If Purdue can’t get Haas on the floor, this leaves them limited in size....a problem they have not had to endure at all this season. This puts more pressure on an in-experienced player like Haarms to stay at out of foul trouble. It also could shift roles for players like Vincent Edwards who may have to play in a bigger role than normally.

The loss of Haas will hurt more down the road, but Purdue should easily get by this first road-block without him.

Does Butler have enough offensive weapons?

When the Bulldogs and Boilermakers matched up in the Crossroads Classic, Butler had the majority of their offensive production coming from the hands of Kelan Martin and Kamar Baldwin. The pair covered 30 of the team’s 67 points and have been steadily been the most consistent offensive duo for the Bulldogs.

This was the case against Arkansas Friday afternoon in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament. Martin and Baldwin combined for 51 of Butler’s 79 points (27 and 24 points respectively) which was enough to get them past the Razorbacks. They also got an offensive spark from Sean Mcdermott, a player that did not score a single point when he they played Purdue.

The Boilermakers are too good defensively for their opponent to have only two go-to scorers. Mcdermott is one of those players that needs to step to give Butler an extra offensive weapon.

And even that may not be enough.

Overall

The Haas injury put a dark cloud over not only Purdue’s Final Four hopes but as well the NCAA Tournament as a whole. A player like Haas who stayed the course and improved each year at Purdue may have aggravated opposing fanbases for his play but not for his character. For a team like Purdue who is looking for their first trip to the Final Four since 1980, this was a brutal occurrence of events.

However, the Boilermakers had no trouble defeated the Bulldogs earlier this season and have the talent to do it again regardless if Haas plays or not. Purdue should be advancing to Boston for the Sweet 16.

Pick against the spread: Purdue