Can Purdue beat Kansas in the Sweet 16?
If the fourth-seeded Purdue Boilermakers want to extend their season past Thursday, they are going to have to go into enemy territory to get it done. Purdue did what they needed to do in Milwaukee and beat Vermont and Iowa State to get to the Sweet 16. Their reward is a date in Kansas City with one-seed Kansas, whose campus sits some 40 miles to the west.
It’ll be a tough environment, but thankfully playing in the Big Ten has prepared Purdue for an environment like this.
Kansas is a true blue blood and one of the elites. It has been 17 years since they have been lower than a four seed and this will be their 30th Sweet 16 appearance.
They are led by their own National Player of the Year candidate, Frank Mason III. The 5′ 11″ point guard is averaging 20.8 ppg and 5.2
The 5′ 11″ point guard is averaging 20.8 ppg and 5.2 apg, while shooting 47.2% from the three-point line. He is great at creating shots for himself and for others. He’ll be the best point guard Purdue has played against this year. He’ll probably get close to his averages, but if you can make him take a high number of shots to get there then that’s a win for the defense.
He is joined in the backcourt with 6’8″ freshman Josh Jackson (16.6 ppg/7.1 rpg/38.6% 3pt) and 6’2″ junior Devonte Graham (13.3 ppg/4.3 apg/39.2% 3pt). Jackson is a lottery pick in this year’s NBA Draft and a very tough matchup. When he gets into the middle of the lane, he is nearly impossible to stop. It’ll be important to keep him on the perimeter and off the boards as much as possible. Graham is the beneficiary of the attention Mason demands. He averages six attempts from three-point range with many of those being created from Mason. It’ll be hard to keep Mason and Jackson from getting to their averages, but if you can handle Graham and take him out of his game, then Purdue should have a good chance of winning.
6’8″ junior Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (9.7 ppg/3.1 rpg/39.5 3% 3pt) also plays more of a guard spot for Kansas and is more of a traditional spot-up shooter. The Jayhawks play a “four out, one in” type of offense. Their two big guys are 6’10” Landen Lucas and 6’10” Carlton Bragg Jr. They don’t score many points for the Jayhawks; however, they know their roles and can rebound well.
For Purdue to have a chance, Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas are going to need to dominate inside. I’d expect Kansas to come with a double, especially if those two really get going early in the game. If that’s the case, the guards are going to have to knock down shots when the bigs pass out of the post. Haas and Swanigan limiting their turnovers will also be a big key in this game. When they turn the ball over, it usually turns into a runout for the opposing team and Kansas will kill you in the open floor on fast breaks. They are as good in transition as anybody in the country. Staying out of foul trouble will also be a key. The referees in the Iowa State game refereed the Purdue bigs as well as anyone has all year. Losing the post advantage with Haas and/or Swanigan getting into foul trouble will be very hard for the Boilers to overcome.
Purdue’s guards will be going up against their biggest challenge of the season.
Mason and Graham are as good as a backcourt as there is in college basketball. P.J. Thompson will have his hands full containing Mason.
This is a game where the guards have to knock down their shots when they get good looks. Kansas is going to double the post so Cline, Mathias, Thompson, and both Edwards should get good looks from the perimeter. Vincent has had an impressive tournament run and they’ll need him to stay hot while also containing Jackson on defense.
Sweet 16 Prediction: Purdue 83 Kansas 78