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Boilermakers, Wolverines with a Shot at the Elite Eight: NCAA Tournament Previews, Open Thread

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Three Big Ten teams remain active in postseason play. Does that number shrink to one tonight?

Texas Tech v Purdue
This one’s relevant to Purdue AND Texas Tech!
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

We’re down to the best of the Big Ten in the NCAA Tournament.

In the NIT, the Nebraska Cornhuskers made their graceful exit in a plucky road loss at TCU, then celebrated by firing Tim Miles; Indiana struggled with exactly what we thought they’d struggle with, keeping the Wichita State Shockers off the boards in a 73-63 home loss in the quarterfinals.

So then, there were three: the Purdue Boilermakers, Michigan Wolverines, and Michigan State Spartans, three of the last 16 in a very top-heavy, Power 5-heavy NCAA Tournament.

Previews

[4] Florida State Seminoles vs. [1] Gonzaga Bulldogs

West Region: Honda Center, Anaheim, CA
6:09pm CT | CBS | Gonz -8 | O/U 147

[3] Purdue vs. [2] Tennessee Volunteers

South Region: KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, KY
6:29pm | TBS | Tenn -2 | O/U 147

Boilerman: There’s a ton of hype around this game. More than a few people have called it the most exciting matchup in the Sweet 16 and for good reason. Purdue and Tennessee are two of the most evenly matched teams left in the field. Purdue is 9th in the KenPom rankings, Tennessee is 10th. Both are in the Top 5 for offensive efficiency and Top 35 in defensive efficiency. From a statistical standpoint, these guys are neck-and-neck. Let’s take a deeper dive.

Purdue’s offense vs. Tennessee’s defense: If you don’t know it by now, Purdue lives by the 3. Against Villanova, everything clicked and the Boilers bombed Jay Wright’s squad from deep. One of the few weaknesses of this Volunteer defense is they lag behind the national average in 3-point percentage.

Another thing Purdue will need to try and exploit is offensive rebounding. The Boilers carry one of the nation’s best offensive rebounding percentages while Tennessee shows some weakness in allowing second chances despite having Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams. That said, Tennessee has one of the best 2-point defenses in the country. Their 2-point percentage ranks 18th in the country while Purdue’s offense inside the arc is above average but isn’t elite.

The formula for the Boilers should remain fairly simple. Take care of the ball (which they do well), get hot from deep, and let Matt Haarms clean up the mess down low.

Purdue’s defense vs Tennessee’s offense: This is where it gets scary. Tennessee has the star power and athleticism in spades. They boast one of the best effective field goal percentages and take care of the ball just as well as the Boilers do. They shoot well enough from deep but their scoring breakdown shows they prefer to get points inside the arc. Look for Rick Barnes crew to try and drive on Purdue’s guards and kick to an open man when the Boilers collapse. Tennessee boasts one of the best assist rates in the country.

Overall feel: This should be a helluva game. The Boilers cruised through their first two games with relative ease while Tennessee got a nasty wakeup call from Iowa. There’s talent abound and the crowd should be ready for a great game with both teams having fanbases within an easy drive of Louisville.

Poll

Who wins?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    Boilermakers
    (44 votes)
  • 39%
    Volunteers
    (29 votes)
73 votes total Vote Now

[2] Michigan vs. [3] Texas Tech Red Raiders

West Region: Anaheim, CA
8:39pm | CBS | Mich -1.5 | O/U 125

The #1 and #2 best defensive teams in the country meet...so, uh, I guess that’s something?

When Michigan has the ball: Holy shit, do the Red Raiders contest shots. They’re allowing the second-worst 2-pt percentage and 16th-worst 3-pt rate in the country, have blocked a whopping 168 shots, force 15.7 turnovers a game, allow under 60 points a game... I mean, goddamn.

Rangy forward Tariq Owens (2.4 bpg) will challenge the size of Jon Teske inside, while transfer G Matt Mooney and G Jarrett Culver each are likely to nab a few steals. One player I’m not sure Chris Beard’s club can match up with is the size and outside ability of Ignas Brazdeikis. If the Cratered Canadian can create chances from deep—perhaps along with Teske—it could stretch the Texas Tech defense outside their comfort zone. But Michigan will be tested by the active hands and shot-blocking ability of Tech.

When TTU has the ball: Culver, Culver, Culver. The hometown sophomore isn’t the most efficient scorer in the world, but he handles the bulk of it for the Raiders, along with Mooney, the former Air Force and South Dakota man (who’s particularly deadly from deep). Don’t hold your breath for the Raiders to get to the line over and over again or pour in a dozen threes, but watch for their clinical finishing around the basket—particularly Owens’ quiet 10 points around the basket.

Indiana fans may recognize the Bobby Knight principles in the Tech offense, though Beard has added more ball screens to the motion offense. If the Raiders are hitting from deep, though, they use re-screens to free up those shooters and catch teams switching on picks. It’ll be incumbent on the Wolverines to get strong defensive showings from Zavier Simpson and Charles Matthews to keep the Raiders from settling in to the Wolverines’ end of the court.

Poll

Who wins?

This poll is closed

  • 64%
    Michigan
    (47 votes)
  • 35%
    Texas Tech
    (26 votes)
73 votes total Vote Now

[12] Oregon Ducks vs. [1] Virginia Cavaliers

South Region: Louisville, KY
8:57pm | TBS | UVA -8.5 | O/U 119

Jesus. You’ll fall asleep to this one, for sure.


Open thread for the evening of basketball. Don’t be an asshat.