South Region: Villanova vs Purdue Prediction
Villanova vs Purdue Preview
The third-seeded Purdue Boilermakers (24-9) will look to knock out the reigning champs–the sixth-seeded Villanova Wildcats (26-9) on Saturday night in the NCAA Tournament South Region second-round game at Hartford, Conn.
Purdue and Villanova recorded impressive defensive performances in their first-round victories. The Boilermakers limited 14th-seeded Old Dominion to a 26.9-percent effort from the field in their 61-48 win on Thursday while the Wildcats grinded out a 61-57 triumph over 11th-seeded Saint Mary’s.
“I would much rather (have) a 20-point win,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “That would have been much nicer. But it is good to play a game like this in the NCAA Tournament.”
Previewing the Nova game, we said the two players that will get the Cats’ back to the promised land are their two senior leaders. Phil Booth scored 20 points against the Gaels and fellow senior captain Eric Paschall added 14 as the Wildcats improved to 14-1 in the NCAA Tournament since 2016.
“We’re growing, our young guys are growing, but we have two seniors who do everything for us, on and off the court,” Wright said. “We’re just so lucky to have them.”
Villanova sputtered out of the blocks, but Booth attributed the sluggish start to the Gaels stepping up their game.
“We weren’t doing that bad, actually,” Booth said. “It was more that they were playing very well and we were trying to match how they were bringing it. I think we just had to take it to another level, because they were playing at a high level.”
Paschall and Booth both played in Villanova’s last meeting with Purdue, a 79-76 win over the Boilermakers on Nov. 14, 2016. Paschall scored 11 points in just nine minutes of action while Booth had seven points.
They were not the same players they are today and were not asked to carry the load the way they will be in this contest.
For Purdue, it begins and ends with the Big Ten’s leading scorer this season. Junior guard Carsen Edwards, who had a team-high 26 on Thursday to pave the way for Purdue in its win over Old Dominion.
It wasn’t pretty, however, as Edwards went 7-for-23 from the field against the Monarchs and is 24-for-89 in his last four games.
LINE: -4 Purdue
Dan’s Bet: +4 Villanova
Bracket Pick: Villanova
Score Prediction: Villanova 70 Purdue 64