A tough defensive battle is expected with a Big Ten vs. ACC matchup, when #3 Purdue takes on Tony Bennett and #1 Virginia in the South Regional Elite 8 game on Saturday.
The winner of Purdue/UVA will advance to the Final Four. Both teams previous made it to the Final Four twice. Purdue advanced to the Final Four in 1969and 1980. Virginia made their first Final Four appearance in 1981 with Ralph Sampson. They have not been back to the Final Four since 1984.
#3 Purdue (26-9) vs. #1 Virginia (32-3)
Tip-Off: 5:49pm PT
Location: KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, KY
Point Spread: UVA -4.5
This is another game with a low total. Virginia boasts the top defense in the nation. The Cavs are ranked #1 and allow only 54.8 points per game. Opponents averaged 52 points per game against them in March Madness thus far.
Purdue advanced to the Elite 8 for the first time since 2000. This is not territory that many Purdue fans are familiar with because they have only been this deep four other times.
In 1969, Purdue made it as far as the championship game, but they lost in the finals against John Wooden’s powerhouse UCLA squad.
Matt Painter guided Purdue to a third-straight Sweet 16. Painter played guard for Purdue in the 1990s under legendary coach Gene Katy. He’s been the head coach at Purdue since 2005. Painter amassed a 321-158 record with Purdue. The Boilermakers advanced to March Madness in 11 of the 14 years he coached them. This is the deepest he’s ever gotten, but he’s not going to settle. Only the best defense in the country stands in his way of a ticket to the Final Four in Minneapolis.
Carsen Edwards, a 6-foot-1 junior guard, leads the Boilermakers in scoring with 23.8 points per game. Edwards increased his output to 32.3 points per game in March Madness. He dropped 42 points on the defending champions Villanova in the Round of 32. He scored 29 against Tennessee in the Sweet 16.
Purdue needed overtime to beat Tennessee 99-94, who ran out of gas in the extra session. Ryan Cline, a 6-foot-6 senior and the team’s second-leading scorer, hit several clutch three-pointers in the second half of the Tennessee game. Cline finished with 27 points on 7-for-10 shooting from beyond the arc.
UVA All the Way?
Tony Bennett is only one win away from his first Final Four. In ten seasons, Bennett is 250-89 in Charlottesville. He earned the #1 seed for Virginia three four times since 2014, but failed to advance to the Final Four.
Virginia advanced to the Elite 8 for the second time since 2016. Syracuse ended their run in 2016, when they also held the #1 seed.
The young head coach incurred an embarrassing loss last year when Virginia became the first #1 seed in history to lose to a #16 seed. UVA has been on a mission this year after getting stomped by UMBC.
The Cavs held their own this season in a fierce battle for the top of the ACC leaderboard against both Duke and North Carolina. Defense has been the cornerstone of Virginia’s philosophy. Purdue will earn every point against them in the South regional final.
De’Andre Hunter, 6-foot-7 guard, is UVA’s leading scorer with 15.1 points per game. He hits 52.1 percent of his shots, but he had back-to-back subpar games with only 10 points against Oklahoma and only 11 points against the Cinderella Oregon Ducks. The Cavs need a big game from Hunter if they expect to stay alive.
Virginia also has a pair of sharpshooters with Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome. However, both struggled against Oregon’s match-up zone. They were a combined 5-for-19 from three-point land. Despite the off night, Jerome powered through and the junior hit a big-time three-point to break a tie late in the game against Oregon. Jerome finished with a team-high 13 points.
According to the South Point Casino and Sports Book in Las Vegas, the Virginia Cavaliers are 3/1 to win 2019 March Madness. The Purdue Boilermakers are 12/1 odds to win the men’s college basketball championship.