There are 16 “Round of 32” games on Saturday and Sunday as the most exciting weekend of the sports calendar continues. As we always do every March here at MSF, we try to cover you with previews, informed and reasoned predictions, and pertinent viewing info as soon as we can get it posted.
In this post, we preview the Midwest Region matchup between Bill Self’s #2 seed Kansas Jayhawks and Matt Painter’s 10th-seeded Purdue Boilermakers.
Kansas-Purdue Game Info
- Seeds & Region: #2 Kansas v #10 Purdue in Midwest Region
- Kansas-Purdue Date: Sunday, 3/18
- Kansas-Purdue Tip Time: 8:40 ET
- Kansas-Purdue Location: Omaha
- Kansas-Purdue TV: TNT
- Kansas-Purdue Announcers: Marv Albert, Steve Kerr, and Craig Sager
- Kansas-Purdue Point Spread: TBA
- Tickets: Kansas-Purdue Tickets
- Tickets: Midwest Regional Tickets in St. Louis
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Kansas-Purdue Analysis and Prediction
Purdue withstood a late rally from Saint Mary’s to win by three points on Friday night, which sets up a date with Kansas on Sunday after the Jayhawks dispatched of Detroit. The Boilers got 21 points from Terone Johnson and 18 from senior Lewis Jackson, including the game-winning free throws. For KU, Terrence Robinson had 16 points, 13 rebounds, two assists, and a steal in yet another terrific all around performance.
Both teams rank in the Top 10 in adjusted offensive efficiency, but the Jayhawks have been much better on the defensive end, ranking seventh compared to 91st for Purdue.
Led by Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey inside, the Jayhawks finished ninth in two-point shooting at 54.1 percent, while Purdue was 220th in two-point defense. The Boilers lack quality inside players and at times have reverted to playing an extremely small lineup with Robbie Hummel at the five. I simply don’t see how such a lineup would work against Kansas though.
The Jayhawks also appear to have a distinct advantage when looking at their free throw rate, which was a solid 41.1 this season, while Purdue ranked 126th in opponents’ free throw rate. In fact, KU appears to have an advantage in virtually every statistical category, including offensive rebound, three-point shooting, and turnover rate.
To combat that, Purdue will need to be lights out on offense. You can be certain they won’t turn the ball over, as evidenced by their paltry 13.5 turnover rate this season. Outside of that, the Boilers’ greatest strength is their three-point shooting, which finished the season at 37.7 percent. That’s one area where the Jayhawks have struggled this year, as they rank 186th in three-point defense. It will be imperative that Purdue’s shooters like Hummel, Ryne Smith, and D.J. Byrd shoot well from the outside on Sunday.
If the Boilers aren’t hitting from long range, there really isn’t a plan B as they aren’t a strong offensive rebounding team, and they don’t get to the line very often.
In the end, Kansas just has too much strength inside, and the Boilers have no answer for the likes of Robinson and Withey. Unless Purdue can get hot from long range, the Jayhawks should be able to use their strong defense to secure the victory.
Predicted Winner: Kansas
Kansas Jayhawks Team Capsule
- Conference: Big 12
- Record: 27-6 (16-2 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 9-1
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 12-6
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Baylor (2), Georgetown, Iowa State, Kansas State (2), Long Beach State, Missouri, Ohio State, South Florida, Texas (2)
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Baylor, Davidson, Duke, Iowa State, Kentucky, Missouri
- Player to Watch: Thomas Robinson (6’9” F, Jr.) – 17.9 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 1.1 spg, 1.0 bpg, 53.1 FG%
Kansas Bottoms Line:
Despite losing a number of key contributors from last season’s team, the Jayhawks refused to relinquish their stranglehold on the Big 12 and won the league by two full games.
Player of the Year candidate Thomas Robinson is a double-double machine who is relentless on both ends of the floor. His 31.6 defensive rebounding percentage is the best in the country, and he has proved adept at getting opposing defenders into foul trouble. The other key offensive weapon is guard Tyshawn Taylor, who averages 17.3 points and a team-high 4.8 assists while hitting 43.5 percent from deep. Center Jeff Withey has come up big for the Jayhawks on multiple occasions and always impacts the game with his rebounding and shot-blocking prowess.
Overall, Kansas ranks in the Top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and their two-point shooting and two-point defense are also among the nation’s best. They have also done a solid job of getting to the line and competing on the glass.
Purdue Boilermakers Team Capsule
- Conference: Big Ten
- Record: 21-12 (10-8 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 6-4
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 3-10
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Iona, Michigan, Temple
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Alabama, Indiana (2), Michigan, Michigan State (2), Ohio State (2), Wisconsin, Xavier
- Player to Watch: Robbie Hummel (6’8” F, Sr.) – 16.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.2 bpg
Purdue Bottoms Line:
While the Boilers haven’t been as strong on defense as they have in recent years, they have stepped up their game offensively and rank among the Top 10 in offensive efficiency. They have the lowest turnover rate in the nation and have made nearly 38 percent from long range, but the other numbers aren’t particularly impressive. On defense, Purdue as struggled in part due to a lack of size inside, which has hurt them on two-point defense as well as on the glass.
Senior Robbie Hummel has returned from two serious knee injuries to lead the Boilers in scoring and rebounding, and it’s tough not to root for a player who has been through so much. Point guard Lewis Jackson is the only other Purdue player to score in double figures at 10.3 points per game, and he also leads the team in assists with 4.3 per contest. He doesn’t shoot well from the outside but can get to the rim thanks to great quickness. Ryne Smith and D.J. Byrd both hit at least 43 percent from beyond the arc, and Terone Johnson has played better since the dismissal of Kelsey Barlow.
Related: Jump to our Midwest Region Bracket Breakdown
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Then have a fun, exuberant, responsible St. Patrick’s Day celebration tomorrow, enjoying a Guinness or two while watching basketball. What could be better?