The No. 3 seed Purdue Boilermakers will take on the No. 1 seed Virginia Cavaliers in the South Region Final at KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky, this Saturday to decide who will earn the ticket for the Final Four. Both teams played some thrilling games in the previous round, while the Boilermakers defeated the Cavaliers 61-59 in their last head-to-head matchup in 2006, so we expect to see another stirring battle. NCAAB: Saturday, March 30, 2019, KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Kentucky, 8:49 PM ET
The Boilermakers are looking for their first Final Four since 1980
The Purdue Boilermakers (26-9; 16-4 Conf.) held off the No. 2 seed Tennessee Volunteers 99-94 in overtime this past Thursday to reach the Elite Eight for the first time since 2000. The Boilermakers almost blew an 18-point lead, while they were up by 12 points at halftime. They played terrific defense in the first half, allowing the Vols to score just 28 points, but their game collapsed in the second half when they conceded 54. Still, Matt Painter’s boys were keen to finally make it to the regional finals, as this was their third straight Sweet Sixteen appearance. Carsen Edwards led Purdue with 29 points, becoming the school’s all-time leading scorer in the NCAA Tournament, while Ryan Cline added 27 points on 7-of-10 shooting from beyond the 3-point line.
The Boilermakers’ head coach Matt Painter knows his boys will have a tall task against the Cavaliers. “You know how dangerous it is to play Virginia,” Painter said Friday. “And so that alone, I don’t know how any other feelings can get past that feeling right there. How do we stop Ty Jerome and Hunter and Kyle Guy and the rest of their group? That’s enough of an obstacle.”
Purdue is 2-2 straight up in its previous four Elite Eight appearances and will be looking for its first Final Four berth since 1980. The Boilermakers are scoring 122.0 points per 100 possessions this season (4th in the country) on 53.4 effective field goal percentage (58th), allowing 95.0 points in a return (28th) on 49.0 effective field goal percentage (95th). Junior guard Carsen Edwards is leading the way for Purdue, tallying 23.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game while hitting 38.9% of his field goals. Edwards is the first player since Stephen Curry with four consecutive 25-point games in the NCAA Tournament. Senior guard Ryan Cline is averaging 11.7 points and 3.4 dimes per contest, while center Matt Haarms is posting 9.4 points, 5.4 boards, and 2.0 blocks per game.
The Cavaliers are searching for their third Final Four berth ever and first since 1984
The Virginia Cavaliers (32-3; 16-2 Conf.) defeated the No. 12 seed Oregon Ducks 53-49 in the South Region Sweet Sixteen to make it to the regional final for the second time in four years. As it was expected, we saw a tight defensive battle, and the Cavaliers somehow found their way to the top. Both teams shot below 38.0% from the field, hitting nine triples each, but Virginia made three turnovers fewer and five offensive rebounds more than Oregon. Four Virginia’s starter scored in double figures and Ty Jerome led the way with 13 points including a crucial 3-pointer with three and half minutes left on the clock. Interestingly, the Cavaliers’ second unit didn’t take a single shot, combining for two rebounds and a turnover.
The Cavaliers’ head coach Tony Bennett was delighted after the win, but he’s already looking to their next opponent. “I can’t tell you how thankful and excited I am. It was a hard-fought game. It was a knuckle buster or whatever you want to call it. We had to fight. Again, these guys found enough, and we know we can play more efficient and better in some ways, but the defense carried us,” Bennett said. “Our next opponent is very tricky. I know coach Painter very well, and he’s one of the best coaches in the game. The way they move and the things they do, obviously, their players can score. And, when you win the Big Ten, you have to be rock-solid.”
Virginia is 2-4 straight up in its six Elite Eight matchups so far, and the Cavaliers will try to reach the Final Four for the first time since 1984. They are scoring 123.0 points per 100 possessions this term (2nd in the country) on 55.4 effective field goal percentage (18th), surrendering 88.2 points in a return (3rd) on 43.9 effective field goal percentage (5th). Sophomore guard De’Andre Hunter and junior guard Kyle Guy are key players in this Virginia team. Hunter is averaging 15.2 points per game on 52.9% shooting from the field along with 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists, while Guy is tallying 15.1 points and 4.4 boards per outing. Junior guard Ty Jerome is posting 13.0 points and 5.3 assists per contest, while junior forward Mamadi Diakite is adding 7.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game.
- 9-4 ATS in the last 13 NCAA Tournament games
- 6-2 ATS in the last eight contests overall
- 1-5 ATS in the last six NCAA Tournament games
- Under is 4-1 in the last five NCAA Tournament games
- Under is 4-1 in the last five games overall
The Winner Prediction
The Boilermakers could be exhausted after that overtime victory to Tennessee, but they finally made it to the Elite Eight and will be highly motivated to continue with their strong performance. Carsen Edwards is playing at the highest level and looks ready to lead his teammates against Virginia’s defense that is one of the best in the country. It will be a tall task, but I think Purdue can keep it really close to Virginia and even win the game. The Cavaliers are also tired, losing a lot of their energy to beat Oregon at the defensive end, and they will need a much better offensive performance to outlast the Boilermakers.
The Pick: Purdue Boilermakers +4.5 (-110)