The No. 2 seed Purdue Boilermakers (28-6) take on the No. 15 seed Cal State Fullerton Titans (20-11) in the First Round of the East Region. The game will be played at the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Friday, March 16. Tip-off time is 12:40 p.m. ET.
Preview: The Boilermakers had their best season in a while under longtime head coach Matt Painter. Purdue has a really well-rounded team, with top players at every position.
Sophomore guard Carsen Edwards leads the team in scoring with 18.5 points per game, while 7-foot-2 center Isaac Hass is definitely the guy opponents notice first off the bus. He averages 14.9 points per game in under 24 minutes per contest.
KenPom‘s offensive efficiency metric has the Boilermakers at No. 2 in the country, behind only Villanova. The defense is also very good, ranked 28th.
The road to the #FinalFour begins in Detroit.
— Purdue Athletics (@PurdueSports) March 11, 2018
Cal State Fullerton is crashing the field, after finishing fourth in the Big West during the regular season. The Titans knocked off No. 1 seed UC Davis in the semifinal, and No. 3 UC Irvine to win the automatic bid.
Date: March 16
Time: 12:40 p.m. ET
TV Channel: truTV
Location: Detroit, MI
Announcers: Ian Eagle, Jim Spanarkel, Allie LaForce
Opening Betting Line: Purdue -20, via 5Dimes
This is Cincinnati’s 30th NCAA Tournament appearance, and the 10th under Matt Painter. The team has not missed the Big Dance since 2014.
Purdue has made 10 Sweet 16s and four Elite Eights. The team made Final Fours in 1969 and 1980, but has never won the NCAA Tournament.
Cal State Fullerton is in its first Tournament since 2008, and third overall. In 1978, the Titans made a run all the way to the Elite Eight, eventually losing to Arkansas.
Prediction: Purdue has flown under the radar down the stretch a bit, but this is a very good team. The duo of Carsen and Vincent Edwards can both fill it up, while Haas and 7-foot-3 Matt Haarms ensure that the Boilermakers have a giant on the court at virtually all moments.
CS Fullerton is really a usurper in this field. Despite their nickname, the Titans will really struggled with Purdue’s size.
I just don’t see an upset bid here. Purdue wins.