The field of the 2018 Elite Eight has finally been set, and the Purdue Boilermakers could not manage to punch their ticket in their regional semifinal game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders, losing in the final game of the night.
First, let’s take a look back at how this game played out.
No. 3 Texas Tech Red Raiders 78, No. 2 Purdue Boilermakers 65
It certainly wasn’t the storybook ending that all Purdue fans had in mind for this senior class that completely changed the landscape of the Boilermaker program. However, that’s how life goes more often than not in the winner take all environment of the NCAA Tournament.
Simply put, it just wasn’t their night.
The Boilermakers started off strong offensively, hitting on seven of their first nine attempts. Then, however, they fell into a long drought, turning the ball over time after time to see Texas Tech eventually take the lead at halftime 30-25. With the long drought, they were fortunate to be down only five. However, Texas Tech struggled offensively for a majority of the half as well, so Purdue was likely kicking themselves that they weren’t nurturing a healthy lead going into the locker room.
In the second half, the Boilermakers made a handful of mini runs, eventually getting the score to 58-55 on a Vincent Edwards layup with 5:46 remaining. Texas Tech responded, however, with an 11-0 run to put the finishing touches on their first ever Elite Eight berth.
Carsen Edwards led a Purdue team that struggled with 17 turnovers, scoring 30 points while Vincent Edwards had 12 points and 13 rebounds. Purdue finishes their season with a 30-7 record. Keenan Evans led the Red Raiders with 16 points, making timely plays down the stretch to finish the Boilermakers off. They’ll face Villanova in the Elite Eight on Sunday.
Friday Night Thoughts
1. Purdue senior class finishes their careers in disappointing fashion, but with heads held high
It certainly wasn’t the outcome that many had hoped. We’ll never know if we would have seen a different result if Isaac Haas hadn’t fractured his elbow in the first game of the tournament.
What we do know, however, is that this Purdue senior class deserves an awful lot of praise and respect. They didn’t manage to take the next step in the NCAA Tournament, but they finished their careers with 104 wins as a group. They more than likely saved the career of Matt Painter in West Lafayette with the way that they turned the program around.
They played every single game for each other and genuinely seem to care about each other. In a world of college basketball filled with scandal and corruption, groups like this can make you tear up when they leave the court for the final time.
It wasn’t the way they wanted to go out, but they absolutely have plenty to be proud of from their time at Purdue. They were one of my favorite groups ever to watch play in how they conducted themselves on and off the floor, through good times and bad.
Vincent Edwards. Dakota Mathias. P.J. Thompson. Isaac Haas. They all gave everything they had for four years, and they’ll be missed.
2. At least one side of the bracket makes sense?
Well, the South and West brackets have found themselves in absolute chaos. Michigan is the highest seeded team remaining, a three seed in the West. The South Regional Final is about to be played between an 11 seed in Loyola Chicago and a 9 seed in Kansas State. That Michigan team I mentioned is playing a 9 seed, the Florida State Seminoles, for their spot in the Final Four.
Meanwhile, the opposite side of the bracket finds its Elite Eight in perfect harmony with the universe. The Midwest region will feature top seed Kansas taking on the 2 seed Duke for their spot in the Final Four, where they will face either top seed Villanova or the 3 seed Texas Tech.
Long story short, if you love madness and unpredictability, watch the games on Saturday. If you love high powered, brand name, blue blood type programs, watch the games on Sunday. If you love March, just clear your entire weekend schedule and watch all four games.
3. Can we just have some consistent officiating?
I’m not saying this with any particular call or game in mind, either. From a players perspective, the most important thing for an official to be is fair and consistent. If, as a crew, you’re going to let the game be physical and “decided by the players”, then call it that way for the entire length of the game.
Not many things are more frustrating for a player or a fan than to witness or be a part of multiple assaults on trips down the floor on both ends, only to be called for a cheap hand check 35 feet from the basket minutes later.
The officiating definitely isn’t, nor should it be, what this tournament is remembered for. However, the lack of consistency from game to game, half to half, or even possession to possession is absolutely maddening.