UConn-Purdue Will Be Loud

Numbers don't much separate tournament's top two teams
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2024 4:05 PM CDT
UConn-Purdue Will Be Loud
Purdue center Zach Edey shoots over NC State forward Ben Middlebrooks (34) during the second half of the NCAA college basketball game at the Final Four on Saturday in Glendale, Ariz.   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

In the NCAA men's tournament over the past two years, Connecticut has played 11 teams and beaten all of them by double digits, Dan Wolken points out in USA Today. The most recent victory was Saturday, when UConn topped Alabama to reach the final, to be played Monday night. "We make a hard tournament look easy," Connecticut coach Dan Hurley said afterward. Wolken calls the string of success unprecedented. "In an event defined by unpredictability, it defies all logic," he writes. But that doesn't mean victory over Purdue in the final is a given. Here's how sportswriters see the matchup of the top seeds:

  • Look down: These teams have been the tournament's best, Joe Tansey writes for Bleacher Report, putting UConn as a significant favorite. While the teams' big men will receive much attention, Tansey says, "guard play could be the deciding factor."
  • Pumped-up volume: This game will be loud, Candace Buckner writes in the Washington Post. Purdue hasn't been in a Final Four for 44 years, and the "wall of sound" emitted by fans when their team beat North Carolina State on Saturday was stunning, she says. "They've waited four decades to scream this loud, and only have until Monday night to really let loose," Buckner writes. She also looks forward to the matchup between 7-foot-4 Zach Edey of Purdue and 7-foot-2 Donovan Clingan of UConn.
  • Statistical profiles: "After more than 6,000 college basketball games played across Division I this year, these are two of the three most-efficient offenses in college basketball and two of the 12 most-efficient defenses," Wolken writes. There's nothing to make anyone anticipate a lopsided result from these teams. "From so many angles, including scoring, defending, rebounding and overall depth, there's just not much between them," he says.
  • Last year: Purdue fell in last year's tournament just as it was starting, to 16th-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson. UConn won it all last time. A national title would be Purdue's first. Victory would make UConn the first men's basketball team to win back-to-back championships since Florida in 2006-07, per CBS Sports.
(More NCAA men's basketball tournament stories.)

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