29 Apr

UConn vs. Purdue matchup set as March Madness concludes

The national championship game which will conclude the the 2024 NCAA Tournament has been finalized after No. 1 seed Purdue knocked off No. 11 NC State in wire-to-wire fashion and No. 1 overall seed UConn eliminated No. 4 seed Alabama in the Final Four games on Saturday. The reigning champion Huskies have opened as a 6-point favorite in the game which will take place Monday night at 9:20 p.m. ET on TBS.

How the Boilermakers got here: After falling to No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson in last year’s NCAA Tournament, Purdue has an opportunity to write a similar redemption script as Virginia in 2019. The Boilermakers defeated No. 16 seed Grambling in the first round, No. 8 seed Utah State in the second round, No. 5 seed Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 and No. 2 seed Tennessee in the Elite Eight. In the first national semifinal on Saturday, Purdue superstar big man Zach Edey powered his team to victory with a late surge in the second half as the Boilermakers led by as many as 20 points in the closing minutes of the win over NC State.

How the Huskies got here: The reigning national champions are not only winning in the NCAA Tournament but doing so in a commanding fashion. UConn opened the NCAA Tournament with a 91-52 win over No. 16 Stetson and defeated No. 9 seed Northwestern 75-58 to advance to the second weekend. In the Sweet 16, a title game rematch from last season, the Huskies knocked off No. 5 seed San Diego State 82-52 and then steamrolled No. 3 Illinois 77-52 in the Elite Eight. No. 4 seed Alabama offered the toughest to this point, but UConn pulled away down the stretch for the 86-72 win.

How UConn and Purdue match up: This game will come down the showdown in the paint. On one side, you have the unstoppable force (Edey) who just became the first player in at least 50 years to reach six consecutive NCAA Tournament games with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. On the other side, you have the immovable object (UConn center Donovan Clingan) who is moving up draft boards thanks to his March Madness performance. Clingan will be the best defensive-minded big man Edey has faced all season. Edey had five turnovers against NC State, and most of those came when the Wolfpack collapsed on him inside. While UConn could install a similar gameplan, Clingan is more than capable of guarding him one-on-one. Purdue is one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the country, and they may have to rely on that more and more if Clingan neutralizes Edey.

What’s at stake: Purdue is seeking its first national championship in program history. UConn is looking to become the first team to win back-to-back championships in men’s basketball since Florida in 2006-07. The Huskies could tie North Carolina for the third-most championships all-time behind UCLA and Kentucky. UConn’s Dan Hurley has already cemented himself as one of the best coaches in the sport, but a win on Monday would raise his profile even further. On the other side, Purdue coach Matt Painter came into this tournament as one of the best coaches never to have made a Final Four appearance. Now that Painter is out of that club, he can add a championship to his résumé and help his alma mater become the first Big Ten program to win a national title since Michigan State in 2000.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *