For the first time since March 4, 1990, the defending NCAA champion will play at Mackey Arena:
You may ask, “didn’t Michigan State win in 2000?” Yes, they did, but the Spartans did not come to Mackey the following season. The only game with Purdue was in East Lansing in 2000-01. That means you have to go back to the 1989 Michigan squad for the last time the champs came in. This makes for a huge game for Purdue. The Wildcats enter as the No. 3/4 team in the preseason polls with good reason. They crushed most of the competition last year en route to the title and returned a ton of experience. They have a tremendous back court, depth, experience, and they won’t be afraid.
This may be the biggest game at Mackey since E’Twaun’s 38 Special vs. No. 2 Ohio State in 2011. In that game, it was so loud in Mackey that it was painful. The sound was a physical manifestation that made the Buckeyes wilt. That is the game where Mackey hit 119 decibles, and the Paint Crew already wants to go for 120 tomorrow night.
We can likely expect a similar atmosphere tomorrow night.
From: Philadelphia, PA
Date : Monday, November 14, 2016
Tip Time: 7:02 p.m. ET
Location: West Lafayette, Indiana
Arena: Mackey Arena (14,804)
Television: Big Ten Network
Radio: Purdue Radio Network
SiriusXM Satellite: XM (Ch. 381); Internet (Ch. 968)
Live Stats: bit.ly/PurdueLiveStats
Odds: Pick ‘em
2015-16 Record: 35-5, 16-2 Big East (Big East and National Champions)
Series with Purdue: Villanova leads 2-0
Last Villanova Win: 11/15/2012 89-81 (OT) at Madison Square Garden
Last Purdue Win: None
NCAA Tournament History: 1985 and 2016 NCAA Champion, 36 appearances
This is going to be a good one. Villanova may have the best back court in the country with Jalen Brunson, Phil Booth, and Josh Hart. Purdue may have the best front court in America with Caleb Swanigan, Vince Edwards, and Isaac Haas. Villanova has a healthy respect for Swanigan, but without a regular player over 6’9” they are going to have a very hard time defending Haas too. Brunson and Hart are definitely better than Purdue’s P.J. Thompson and Dakota Mathias, however.
Purdue needs to be ready to defend the perimeter all night long because the Wildcats are content to sit back and bomb away from deep. In the season opening 88-48 win over Lafayette Friday night they shot 41 threes, making 15 of them. Brunson, a player that Matt Painter recruited, hit four of them as did Kris Jenkins. Jenkins, of course, is the guy who hit the game-winner against North Carolina in the title game.
Villanova mixed up the scoring quite a bit against Lafayette. Brunson led the team with 17 while Jenkins had 16 and Hart had 13. Mikal Bridges, who averaged 6.7 points last year as a freshman, threw in 16 off the bench.
Villanova is an extremely athletic team. They are going to get out and run, so Purdue’s guards will be tested. Basil Smotherman, making his first appearance in a year and a half, could have a large role with his defensive capabilities and athleticism. It is no secret that Purdue wants to punish them inside with Haas and Swanigan, while Villanova wants to utilize its superior athleticism.
That’s what makes this so fascinating. It is a bit of a clash of styles, and it is a treat of an early season game. For Purdue, a loss is not a bad thing, but a victory would provide a huge NCAA resume boost before we even get to mid-November because Villanova is a projected preseason No. 1 seed. This is the type of game Purdue needs to win if it is ever going to have success in March. Beating them would cause our own expectations to go sky high and likely vault the Boilers into the top 10.
That said, Villanova is the champ for a reason. They aren’t going to wilt in the dungeon of noise that is Mackey. They have been through the huge games on a national stage and come out winners. I think that is going to be enough in the end. Villanova 75, Purdue 72