This is the only Sweet 16 matchup in which the favorites to make here it here actually did with the 2- and 3- seeds. Texas Tech doesn’t play pretty, which is a main reason it’s stayed out of the spotlight, while most of the talk around Purdue has been about the injured Isaac Haas. The Boilermakers opened as slim -1.5 point favorites at 5Dimes Sportsbook for the Game in Boston.
Neither of these teams looked overwhelmingly good in the first couple Games, but both survived and that’s all that matters. Purdue showed it could win without Haas against a solid Butler team and Texas Tech took care of Florida with superior play down the stretch.
Neither one of these teams plays a high-pace brand of basketball and that could lead to a lower scoring total. The most intriguing matchup will be Purdue’s offense, which ranks second in the country, going against Tech’s defense that ranks Fourth. Those two aspects are the reason both of these teams are in this situation. The Red Raiders do everything well defensively outside of committing fouls, while it’s the same for the Boilers except they aren’t great at grabbing offensive boards.
On the other end, both teams are solid, but not as elite. With both teams playing heavy man-to-man, the matchups are the best place to look when analyzing this Game. The status of Haas is a big question, but considering he could barely lift his arm due to a broken elbow a few days ago, it’s hard to see him having a big impact.
Without Haas, Vincent Edwards took up a bigger role in the offense and that worked perfectly as the senior has regained his form and has 35 points in the last two Games. Tech doesn’t have one player that will match up exclusively with Edwards, as it will probably be a combo of guys like Jarrett Culver, Justin Gray and Zhaire Smith. At center, Matt Haarms and Zach Smith serve almost the same role on their teams, as more of a defensive presence than someone to turn to offensively. That’s the biggest difference between Haarms and Haas in that Haarms isn’t a viable offensive force, but has more athleticism on defense.
The backcOurt will be an equally fun battle with Carsen Edwards and Keenan Evans the names to know. Evans is everything for the Red Raiders and is the only consistent scorer on the team with at least 22 points in the team’s last Four wins. There’s a decent chance the bigger and better defender, Dakota Mathias, takes on Evans for the majority of the Game. If Evans can Scoreagainst Mathias, Purdue will be in trouble. That said, Mathias will probably also be needed on Zhaire Smith and Niem Stevenson, so the shorter PJ Thompson could draw Evans, as well.
As for Purdue, Carsen Edwards is a similarly important player on the offensive end and is one that can bust out for 20-plus points in any Game. That said, it won’t be an easy matchup against this defense that has decent size and length at every position.
At full strength, Purdue would have the edge in this matchup, but without a healthy Haas, the bigs are about equal. Evans is easier to trust than Carsen Edwards and Tech has a better all around defense. The Boilers have better offensive weapons, but if Haarms doesn’t win his matchup against Zach Smith, the Red Raiders could be in a great position to win.
Our Pick – Texas Tech +2