Date: Friday, March 23
Match-up: #2-Seed Purdue Boilermakers (30-6, 15-3 B1G) vs #3-seed Texas Tech Red Raiders (26-9, 11-7 Big X(II))
Time: Sometime around 10PM EDT | TBS
Line: Purdue -2
Let’s start with the big one surrounding the whole tournament. If your South bracket has any picks remaining, you clearly used a coinflip or watched a cow crap on squares to pick your winners. Holy upsets, Loyola (pun intended). I’m sure fivethirtyeight or some other statistical website could point out a crazier year in the NCAA Tournament, but I highly doubt it. Add to it the craziness in the West and things just look insane.
That said, things in the East and Midwest regions are as chalky as a cheap antacid tablet. The Top 3 seeds in both brackets survived the first weekend which makes for some fun matchups, even if a Cinderella didn’t show up.
Isaac Haas and His Elbow
Damnit, I love me some Purdue Engineering. If you’ve been living under a rock, you wouldn’t know that Isaac Haas broke his elbow during the Cal State-Fullerton game. You also wouldn’t know that he attempted to strap on what essentially looks like something Barry Bonds used to wear during his days in San Francisco. When the NCAA refused to clear it for player safety reasons, the fine folks at Purdue Engineering’s Honors Program swung into action. They claim to have made a brace which is NCAA compliant. Indeed, Isaac was seen practicing with the team yesterday with new brace on. Now, Matt Painter has gone on record saying that this is just the first step. Isaac has to prove he can contribute by pulling down rebounds with both hand and being able to shoot right-handed. But, to even be out there trying, if you don’t love that, I can’t help you.
Now, to the effect it will have on the game. The Boilers proved in their gut check win over Butler, they can still shoot the ball. To say it puts more pressure on the shooters would be an understatement. That said, this is when Vincent Edwards tends to be at his finest. Expect him, and fellow seniors Dakota Mathias and PJ Thompson, to ignite the offense. Oh yeah, there’s also that guy named Carsen Edwards, don’t forget about him. And last but not least, Matt Haarms and that beautiful hair swipe. Someone get the kid some gel.
Painter vs. Beard, Part Deux
I’m sure Matt Painter is downplaying the fact the last time his team met an underdog named Little Rock in the tournament, things didn’t turn out so well. That’s his job, block the distractions, coach the game in front of you. With that said, don’t think it isn’t fresh in the minds of the Boiler faithful. We also know what to expect from a Chris Beard team. Aggressive, efficient defense that makes you earn every point. This is exactly why Purdue took on West Virginia in a preseason scrimmage. Purdue has looked much better (most of the time) against pressure type defenses this season. But, you know, the chance for a little redemption never hurt as a motivating factor.
Texas Tech has some star power
When it comes to the other end of the court, the Red Raiders aren’t exactly a bunch of Co-rec Court 1 guys reliving their high school glory days. Keenan Evans, despite a foot injury, has been a slasher and tends to come alive in the second half. Zhaire Smith also has been showing off his hops with some impressive dunks. They aren’t the most impressive team from 3-point land, but they make up for it by shooting very well inside the arc.
Boilerman’s Completely Biased Prediction
Everything about this game screams grinder. If you look at Texas Tech’s schedule, they rarely blew anyone out (/looks at Northwestern, congrats on being the exception) and have played a ton of close games. They’re going to make you be patient and earn every point. Ultimately, I see this playing out much like the Butler game. Purdue will make their runs, Texas Tech will make theirs, and the team with the ball last may very well being shooting for the win. I just hope it’s Purdue.
Boilers by 2.