The No. 3-seed Purdue Boilermakers hope to make the team’s second Elite Eight appearance in the past three tournaments tonight when the No. 15-seed Saint Peter’s Peacocks face off against Purdue. The matchup is being played at at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia and is set for a 7:09 p.m. EDT tipoff broadcasting on CBS.
It will mark the second meeting all-time between the two programs, both coming in the NCAA Tournament. That matchup featured the No. 3-seed Purdue posting a 65-43 victory over No. 14-seed St. Peter’s in the Round of 64 in the Southwest region. The Boilermakers fell in the Round of 32 to the No. 11-seed VCU Rams 94-76.
This Peacocks team is a lot different than that last squad to face off against Purdue, however. Saint Peter’s has quickly taken the underdog crown for the 2022 Tournament after knocking off No. 2 seed Kentucky in the East Region’s Round of 64 matchup before adding a win over No. 7 seed Murray State in the Round of 32 to advance to the program’s first ever Sweet 16 appearance. In fact, the win over Kentucky was the Peacock’s first program victory in the NCAA Tournament. It took four tries to achieve the feat, but is a far better percentage than Nebraska’s 0-7 record in the NCAA to date.
Back St. Peter’s, though. The squad features a lackluster offense statistically. The Peacocks ranked No. 266 in effective field goal percentage and No. 310 in turnover rate during the season. The offense overcame this with good enough three-point shooting, averaging 35.3 percent from the field but a whopping 52.9 percent from three-pint range against Kentucky in particular. Against Murray State, however, St. peter’s went just 3-for-13 from deep.
Junior guard Daryl Banks III leads Saint Peter’s with 11.4 points per game and senior forward KC Ndefo adds 10.7 points and 6.2 rebounds while also leading the team in steals (1.2) and blocks (2.8) per game. Ndefo’s black rate is good for top-10 nationally and he is a tenacious defender who can harassers opponents horizontally with his feet and rise to challenge shots far more efficiently than his 6-foot-7 frame would suggest.
No other player for the team is averaging double figures scoring, but junior guard Doug Edert adds 9.7 points per game and scored 20 points in the MAAC title game another 20 points against Kentucky. Junior guard Fousseyni Drame leads the team on the glass with 6.6 rebounds per game and junior guard Matthew Lee leads in assists with 3.0 per game.
Also of note is head coach Shaheen Holloway. The former Seton Hall player during his college days is likely to become the next Seton Hall head coach whenever St. Peter’s eventually does fall out of the tournament. Whenever the Cinderella run ends, it will probably come with quite the thud in that regard if the expected favorite candidate rumors prove true.
Holloway relies on an aggressive pick and roll offense that looks for fast running back screens. This is something the Boilermakers have struggled against this season and will have to overcome when facing the Peacock’s effective bounce passes to bigs.
As for Purdue, the size will come in handy in this one. The Boilermakers will be able to impose their will on the Peacocks and have an enormous advantage in cutting down on second chance points on defense and creating such opportunities while on offense.
Then of course add in that this Purdue team is far more effective from three-point range on average, hitting 39.1 percent on the season, and features four players averaging double figures, this one should likely end with a Purdue win. Saint Peter’s managed to shoot lights out against Kentucky and then play a hard fought game to advance over a fellow low seed opponent in the Round of 32. However, Purdue is unlikely to be sleeping on the Peacocks after that Kentucky upset.