There are 32 games on Thursday and Friday, one of the most exciting 48-hour segments on the sports calendar.
We won’t be able to get individual previews up for every game, but we’ll cherry pick some of the more compelling matchups during the tournament’s “second” round.
In this post, we preview the Midwest Region’s 7-10 matchup between the Gaels of St. Mary’s, who have a habit of over-achieving in the Tournament, and the 10th-seeded Boilermakers of Purdue who never lose in the first round but also never quite seem to go as far as they could.
St. Mary’s-Purdue Game Info
- Seeds & Region: #7 St. Mary’s v #10 Purdue in Midwest Region
- St. Mary’s-Purdue Date: Friday, March 16th
- St. Mary’s-Purdue Tip Time: 9:55 ET
- St. Mary’s-Purdue Location: Omaha
- St. Mary’s-Purdue TV: truTV
- St. Mary’s-Purdue Announcers: Marv Albert, Steve Kerr, and Craig Sager
- St. Mary’s-Purdue Point Spread: Purdue -2
- Tickets: St. Mary’s-Purdue Tickets
- Tickets: All Omaha Sessions
- Tickets: Midwest Regional Tickets in St. Louis
St. Mary’s-Purdue Analysis and Prediction
Look for plenty of offense in this one, as both teams rank in the Top 25 in adjusted offensive efficiency and both rank right around 100th on the defensive end. Both teams have solid point guards in Matthew Dellavedova and Lewis Jackson and do-it-all forwards in Rob Jones and Robbie Hummel.
For the Boilers, they simply don’t turn the ball over, and they have become increasingly reliant on the three-point shot, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in this matchup since Saint Mary’s struggles to defend on the perimeter. However, the Gaels are better in virtually every statistical category when you compare their offense to Purdue’s defense, and the Boilers’ lack of an inside presence will be an issue for a Saint Mary’s team with a high offensive rebounding percentage and the sixth-best two-point shooting in the country.
The Gaels will also get a nice shot in the arm if third-leading scorer Stephen Holt can return from a knee injury as expected.
Predicted Winner: Saint Mary’s
St. Mary’s Gaels Team Capsule
- Conference: West Coast
- Record: 27-5 (14-2 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 7-3
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 4-3
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: BYU (2), Gonzaga (2)
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Baylor, Gonzaga, Murray State
- Player to Watch: Matthew Dellavedova (6’4″ G, Jr.) – 15.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 6.4 apg
St. Mary’s Bottoms Line:
The Gaels finally wrestled the WCC Championship away from Gonzaga and followed that up with a win in the conference tournament for good measure.
Matthew Dellavedova and Rob Jones give Saint Mary’s a formidable one-two punch. Dellavedova played over 90 percent of the Gaels’ minutes this season, and ability to run the offense efficiently is critical to the team. Jones is a bit undersized at 6-foot-6, but he has impressive rebounding percentages on both ends of the floor and makes over 54 percent of his two-pointers.
Overall, Saint Mary’s ranks in the Top 25 in offensive efficiency, as they do virtually everything well on that end of the floor. On defense, they won’t force many turnovers, but they do a solid job of cleaning the glass and keeping their opponents off of the free throw line. On the injury front, third-leading scorer Stephen Holt missed the last four games with a knee injury, but signs point to him being able to suit up in the NCAA Tournament.
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
See our other individual game previews and predictions:
- South Region: #4 Indiana v #13 New Mexico State
- South Region: #5 Wichita State v #12 VCU
- South Region: #6 UNLV v #11 Colorado
- South Region: #7 Notre Dame v #10 Xavier
- South Region: #8 Iowa State v #9 Connecticut
- West Region: #4 Louisville v #13 Davidson
- West Region: #5 New Mexico v #12 Long Beach State
- West Region: #6 Murray State v #11 Colorado State
- West Region: #7 Florida v #10 Virginia
- West Region: #8 Memphis v #9 Saint Louis
- East Region: #4 Wisconsin v #13 Montana
- East Region: #5 Vanderbilt v #12 Harvard
- East Region: #6 Cincinnati v #11 Texas
- East Region: #7 Gonzaga v #10 West Virginia
- East Region: #8 Kansas State v #9 Southern Miss
- Midwest Region: #3 Georgetown v #14 Belmont
- Midwest Region: #4 Michigan v #13 Ohio
- Midwest Region: #5 Temple v #12 Cal/USF
- Midwest Region: #6 San Diego State v #11 NC State
- Midwest Region: #7 St. Mary’s v #10 Purdue
- Midwest Region: #8 Creighton v #9 Alabama