The wait is finally over. Tonight, the Kansas Jayhawks continue the march to the Final Four in a matchup against the Purdue Boilermakers. The player of the year race is a tantalizing subplot to an intriguing game. Will the Jayhawks be able to pull out the victory in the familiar confines of the Sprint Center?
dnoll5: I have no evidence to back this up, but isn’t Purdue the college that you go to when you can’t get into Indiana, Notre Dame, or Butler? Maybe I’m wrong, but I love insulting the Big 10, so there you go. To the game…..KU will be prepared, and it looks like this team is as focused as any recent Kansas tournament team. I’m hoping for another Tyler Self cameo in the last two minutes, but I don’t think it’ll be that easy. Kansas 83, Purdue 69.
Mike: When I first filled out my brackets, I had Purdue knocking Kansas out of the Tournament in this round. The Jayhawks let a not-very-good Michigan State team hang around for 34 minutes, and that is bothering me a bit. If Kansas has its A-game, there’s nothing Purdue can do to knock off the Jayhawks. But if the offense gets stagnant or reverts to Frank Mason drives into (really tall) traffic, or if the defense reverts to November/December levels, the Boilers have a real shot here. They’ve got five guys shooting over 40% from behind the arc, and could easily have an Iowa State-like game against the Jayhawks en route to nailing 18 three-pointers. Additionally, of players averaging more than 12 minutes per game, they’ve only got one who shoots less than 70% from the free throw line. If they have a lead late, they’ll just salt the game away at the charity stripe. All that said, I do think Kansas is pretty clearly the better team here. After all, the Jayhawks don’t have questionable losses to teams like Iowa or Nebraska on their resume. (KU’s worst loss was to top-50 KenPom team Indiana.) So KU is the better team, with the higher upside, right? RIGHT? Guards win in March? They don’t call it March Madness for no reason. I’ll be ecstatic if I’m wrong, but... Purdue 88, Kansas 82.
Winmore: Going all the way back to his days at Tulsa, Bill Self has been a God in the Sweet 16 and a goat in the Elite 8. So I’m more concerned with a matchup between Michigan or Oregon on Saturday. That’s not to say that I’m looking past this Purdue squad - as I’m sure Self and Kansas are not. This KU team just looks dialed in right now. Among casual fans in Lawrence, all week I’ve heard nothing but talk about Purdue big man Caleb Swanigan despite the fact that most of these same people hadn’t even heard of the kid before last weekend. Oddly enough, when Purdue and Kansas met five years ago in the second round of the 2012 tournament the question was how would Purdue’s perimeter based roster deal with the Kansas bigs of Jeff Withey and Thomas Robinson? The answer to that question was, quite well actually. Robbie Hummel absolutely went off on the ‘Hawks in that game as Thomas Robinson was relegated to one of his worst games of the tournament and Jeff Withey was rendered completely irrelevant, playing just 15 minutes despite having just 1 personal foul. If it wasn’t for some miraculous guard play from Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson in the dying minutes and even seconds of that contest, Kansas’ 2012 Final Four run would have ended in the first weekend. Swanigan has played well, but in the Iowa State game he had trouble with Deonte Burton who absolutely worked him while looking like Karl Malone out there in scoring 25 points. Now Swanigan is going to have to guard Josh Jackson? Good luck. Kansas 83, Purdue 76.
Fizzle406: In the summer of 2006 I had a roommate who graduated from Purdue. He was a bit older than me and had played baseball for the the team back when he was a student. He claimed he was even the Big 10 Freshman of the Year when he had played. This being before smartphones and our apartment didn’t have internet, I didn’t really question it since it seemed to be true. Flash forward to Sunday night after the MSU game. I remember my former roommates story and I spend about 15 minutes trying to verify it. I came to the conclusion that he had lied about all of this baseball exploits and was never even on the team. How does this relate to our game tonight? It doesn’t. I’m just too nervous to really think about the game. Kansas 76, Purdue 75
KU Grad 08: Tough interior matchup, we traditionally struggle against teams like this, and I’m not holding my breath that all of Jackson’s borderline-awful shots he has taken lately will keep going in. Jackson is playing fantastic, but come on… he was nailing turnaround 18 footers off the glass against Michigan State. I think we’ll get frustrated and Purdue will get a hot game from outside and the road ends here. Purdue 76, Kansas 73.
Andy: For all the talk about how bad of a matchup this is for Kansas, it's just as equally a bad matchup for Purdue. To avoid matching Swanigan up on Jackson consistently will require neutralizing their advantage down in the post by sitting either Swanigan or Haas. The key tonight will be how many and which fouls will get called. If it's even, Kansas pulls it out. Kansas 87, Purdue 83.