The #2 Purdue Boilermakers will clash with the #3 Texas Tech Red Raiders in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament Friday from the TD Garden in Boston. Purdue defeated CS Fullerton and Butler in their path to this battle, while Texas Tech has beat Stephen F. Austin, and Florida in their route to the round of 16.
Red Raiders Dazzle on Defense in Win Against Florida
The #3 Texas Tech Red Raiders played their signature stifling defense in their 69-66 victory over #6 Florida in the second round of March Madness on Saturday. The Red Raiders posted a 44% shooting performance and limited the Gators to a 39% clip. Red Raiders’ leading scorer Keenan Evans came through in the clutch, sinking 22 points on 8 for 14 shooting. The senior guard is in a groove, scoring at least 22 points in four out of his last five games, boosting his season average to 17.8 points on 48% shooting. Zhaire Smith was outstanding in both ends in Saturday’s win, registering 18 points and nine rebounds. The freshman guard has collected a combined 17 rebounds in his two NCAA Tourney games, and he stands third in team scoring with 11.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.
The Red Raiders have notched a win in four out of their last five games with the lone defeat coming to WVU in the Big 12 tourney. They went a solid 7-4 against ranked opponents this season, and their defense has the ability to contain any opponent. Texas Tech is not a high-scoring team, averaging 74.9 points, ranking them 146th overall. Their outstanding defense is limiting opponents to 64.6 points, good for 15th in the country.
Purdue Holds on to Defeat #10 Butler
The #2 Purdue Boilermakers drained 11 three-pointers in their 76-73 win over #10 Butler in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday afternoon. The Boilermakers were able to sink 50% of their shots, while Butler was able to shoot 49%. Vincent Edwards played a key role in the victory, collecting 20 points on a 6 for 8 mark from the field. The senior forward has scored a combined 35 points in his last two games, and he is now averaging 14.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Purdue’s leading scorer Carsen Edwards had a rough afternoon from an offensive standpoint in Sunday’s win, converting on only 4 of 17 shots for a total of 13 points. The sophomore guard is in a slump, going 12 for 45 from the field in his last three games, bringing his field goal percentage to 45% to go with 18.2 points per game.
Purdue managed well without the services of Isaac Haas (14.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG) in the win against Butler. Haas will be out the remainder of the tourney, however, they were able to out-rebound the Bulldogs in his absence, and they were in an offensive rhythm for most of the game. The Boilermakers have now won seven out of their last eight games with the lone loss coming in the Big Ten Championship game against Michigan. Purdue is very deep offensively and they are averaging 80.8 points, ranking them 39th in the nation. They are holding opponents to 65.4 points, placing them 24th overall.
The Texas Tech Red Raiders are:
- 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 games against Big Ten opponents.
- 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games following a straight up win.
The Purdue Boilermakers are:
- 1-10 in their last 11 games following a straight up win.
- 3-12-1 ATS in their last 16 games overall.
- 1-7-1 ATS in their last 9 games against a team with a winning percentage above .600.
I am siding with Texas Tech in this contest. Texas Tech continues to stifle their opponents, as they have held WVU, Stephen F. Austin, and Florida to a field goal percentage below 41% in their last three games. They also defend the three well, limiting opponents to 32.7% shooting from beyond the arc, so I am confident they can contain Purdue’s three-point scoring. Furthermore, the absence of Isaac Haas will impact Purdue in this matchup as Texas Tech is a stronger defensive and rebounding team than the Butler team Purdue beat on Sunday. Also, Red Raiders’ leading scorer Keenan Evans is red-hot, averaging 21.2 points in his last five games, while Purdue’s leading scorer Carsen Edwards has not been at his best.
Pick: Texas Tech
Texas Tech continues to shine on defense, and Purdue is also an outstanding defensive team that should contain a Red Raiders team that has not been scoring big points. The Red Raiders have held their opponents to an average of 65.3 points in their last four games, and the under is 12-4 in their last 16 neutral site games. Also, Texas Tech has scored 70 or fewer points in three straight games, and I expect this one to be a low scoring battle between two terrific defensive teams.