Whether they want to admit it or not, March is a pretty scary time of the year for college basketball fans. Sure, the games are fun and the buzzer beaters get everyone out of their seats, but there’s a lot on the line. One misstep and your favorite team is sent packing. Look no further than last year’s Virginia team, who went home in the Round of 64 as a one seed.
Unfortunately, the Purdue Boilermakers have largely been on the wrong side of that equation for the last five years. Even with two Sweet 16 appearances, it feels like the team hasn’t been able to deliver when it’s mattered most. And with another high seed, fans are eager to put those struggles to bed.
The good news is that the path seems to be there this year. The Boilermakers have a favorable seeding and get to face Old Dominion in the first round.
So, how does Purdue matchup against the Monarchs? Let’s take a look.
-No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers vs. No. 14 Old Dominion Monarchs
- Time/TV: 9:50PM ET (TBS)
- KenPom Spread: Purdue (-13)
Despite Purdue’s losses to Minnesota over the last two weeks, Purdue enters the postseason in a pretty solid position. The Boilermakers are a three seed in the South Region and will tip-off on Thursday night against Old Dominion in Hartford, Connecticut.
On paper, this looks like a pretty big mismatch. Purdue is 10th nationally on KenPom and won a share of the Big Ten regular season title. Meanwhile, Old Dominion sits at 113th on KenPom and has just two wins against top 100 opponents this season, which came before Christmas.
The strength of Old Dominion’s team lies on the defensive end of the floor. The Monarchs are 45th nationally in defensive efficiency and one of the best defensive squads inside the three-point line. Purdue is an elite offensive team, but the Boilermakers can get over reliant on difficult shots and Carsen Edwards. Old Dominion will have to hope it can force Purdue into those type of looks.
Along with playing quality defense, Old Dominion is also going to need seniors Ahmad Caver and BJ Stith to show up in this one. The two dominate the team’s offensive possessions. Caver is a great ball control guy and Stith is a pretty good perimeter shooter and rebounder.
The question, of course, is going to be about which Purdue team shows up to play on Thursday night. The Boilermakers have an elite national profile, but haven’t been dominant away from home this season. Purdue is 2-3 on neutral courts this season and hasn't looked all that impressive in the team’s road games since beating Ohio State in late January.
It’s also important to note that Old Dominion has scored some quality wins so far this season. The Monarchs beat VCU and Syracuse in non-conference play and scored three wins against a decent Western Kentucky squad.
Still, Purdue is clearly the better team on paper heading into this matchup. The pressure will be on Carsen Edwards to deliver. The path is manageable moving forward and Purdue can’t afford to let this one slip by.
- Pick To Win: Purdue