The Sweet Sixteen has come upon us friends! After losing two teams in the first weekend, the Big Ten was able to advance their other two NCAA Tournament competitors. As was maybe anticipated, the two highest seeds from the Big Ten pool made the third round. However, it was by no means a cakewalk for both. Michigan needed some heroics at the buzzer and Purdue needed to soldier on without senior big man Isaac Haas.
Purdue drew one of the hottest teams in the tournament in Texas Tech for their Sweet Sixteen match-up. Though the Red Raiders struggled near the end of the regular season, they have shown themselves to be rather resilient in this tournament. They rallied to avoid an upset against a very capable Stephen F. Austin team in round one and then they took down sixth-seeded Florida.
The Red Raiders possess more athleticism than Purdue, but the Boilermakers certainly hold the experience edge in this game. Whether that is enough to carry them to the Elite Eight will have to be seen in this game.
Game of the Day
#2 Purdue Boilermakers vs #3 Texas Tech Red Raiders
- Time/TV: 9:57 PM ET - TBS
- Spread: Purdue (-2)
It was by no means easy, but Purdue was able to win without Isaac Haas’ presence last weekend. A late three from Dakota Mathias was the difference maker for the Boilermakers, who won by three points over Butler. It was more than Mathias who stepped up for the team too with Carsen and Vince Edwards, P.J. Thompson and Mathias combining to score 58 of the team’s 76 points.
However, it may not come easily to the Boilermaker core in this game. Texas Tech is dominated by fantastic guard play thanks to Keenan Evans and Zhaire Smith. They combined to score 40 points in the win over Florida last weekend. It is Evans who will likely dictate the offensive pace for the Red Raiders. He loves to attack the basket and draw contact which may cause problems for a less bulky Matt Haarms. Couple that with Haarms’ prowess for wanting to block shots and you could see him get into some early foul trouble. If Evans comes out aggressive, that may be a massive issue for the Boilermakers in this game.
Another factor working against Purdue is the athleticism Texas Tech possesses. The Red Raiders love to impose their will and they could end up man-handling a less athletic Boilermakers team. I do not think that will be the sticking point as Matt Painter has a way of minimizing a team’s strength defensively. It could turn into an issue if Purdue did not gameplan properly though.
The result of this game falls into the lap of Carsen Edwards, in my opinion. With Haas gone, they need a player to assert themselves offensively to will them to victories. In several instances this season, it has been Edwards who makes the most difference for the Boilermakers. With great guard play on the other side, Edwards’ performance is more paramount than ever. Look for Carsen Edwards to be aggressive all game, and if he is successful, Purdue will move on in Boston.
- Pick Against the Spread: Purdue