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2016 NCAA Tournament #5 Purdue vs. #12 University of Arkansas Little Rock

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Let's get to know the UALR Trojans shall we?

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue fans were in for a bit of a surprise Sunday night as Purdue somehow fell to a 5 seed. More on that later from one of us I'm sure. For now though we need to look ahead at the bracket and see who Purdue is playing and how this shakes out. Purdue matches up against the 12 seed University of Arkansas Little Rock Trojans. The game will take place in Denver on Thursday at roughly 4:30 PM. Let's start out with some quick hits.

  • The team set a school record for wins this year with 29. They currently sit at 29-4 overall.
  • This will be just their second NCAA Tournament appearance since 1990 with the last one being 2011.
  • They played your typical mid-major schedule with a lot of teams you'll never recognize. The ones you might included losses at Texas Tech 65-53, and a win @ Depaul 66-44. They also won @ Tulsa and @ San Diego State. I'm really stretching here.
  • They had three losses during conference season all of which occurred on the road. That bodes well for Purdue as I would imagine there will be more Purdue fans at the tournament than UALR fans.
  • The three conference losses were by a combined 13 points so they certainly were not a lucky team.
  • Their leading scorer is Josh Hagin who averages over 13 points a game while shooting 45% from the floor and 38% from three. He is a 6'1 guard.
  • Marcus Johnson Jr. comes in as their second leading scorer and probably the one that scares me the most. He shoots 46% from three while averaging 4.7 three point attempts per game. On the positive side he stands at just 5'11 so hopefully Purdue will be able to use their length on the perimeter to disrupt his shot.
  • The leading rebounder for the Trojans is Lis Shoshi. He's 6'11 and shoots 48% from the floor. Haas and Hammons have to be able to prevent easy buckets. He averages just north of 5 rebounds per game.
  • From a defensive perspective UALR has a steal percentage of 6.2. That's not good for Purdue. We've seen Purdue get turnover prone against many many teams this season. Hopefully they can take care of the basketball when it counts the most.
  • They shoot 39% from three as a team and they have 4 guys who are at or above 40% from three. That's worrisome but it can be mitigated some by the fact that 2 of those 4 guys play limited minutes and average just 3 and 6 points per game on average.
So what does all this mean? I honestly don't know. From what I've read about UALR they seem to be your prototypical mid-major team. They play a scrappy brand of basketball and have some players who would fit in at a handful of major college teams but for one reason or another didn't wind up there. I can't lock down what I expect from this team. Looking at their schedule I know that they certainly haven't beaten anyone great. They dominated their conference but their conference is weak when compared to the B1G (although I apparently have a higher opinion of the B1G than the selection committee does).

According to Pat Forde UALR plays at a deliberate pace. That pleases me as it means Purdue could very well control the tempo of the game. That is the kind of game I trust Purdue to win. That is how they nearly beat Michigan State in the second half today. The pace was slowed considerably and Purdue played much more their style of play. If Purdue can do this against the Trojans I firmly believe Purdue has a great shot at advancing to the round of 32.

Final thoughts for the game are Purdue just needs to focus on Purdue. I know this is a terrible sports cliche but with the way Purdue has played for the last 6 games, including the B1G Tournament, I believe they will be able to get past a mid-major in the first round. Call me condescending or what have you but I have faith in this team to get through the first game without major problems. Think I'm wrong? Sound off in the comments below. Or, if you know more about the Trojans feel free to let us know.