(2) Kansas vs. (10) Purdue: Midwest Region
Kansas 22-13, 11-7 Horizon (Conference Tournament Champions)
Purdue 22-12, 10-8 Big Ten (At large)
Time: 8:40 p.m. Sunday
Location: CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.
Winner will face: (3) Georgetown or (11) North Carolina State, Friday in St. Louis
First round results
Kansas def. Detroit, 65-50
Purdue def. Saint Mary’s, 72-69
Kansas No. 6 AP; No. 6 ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll
Line: Kansas -8 (O/U 140½)
Players to Watch
Kansas: F Thomas Robinson, 6-10 Jr. (17.9 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 53.1% FG); G Tyshawn Taylor, 6-3 Sr. (17.3 ppg, 4.8 apg, 1.2 spg); G Elijah Johnson, 6-4 Jr. (9.6 ppg, 3.8 apg, 1.5 spg). Robinson earned his 24th double-double of the season, dominating Detroit for 16 points and 13 rebounds. The National Player of the Year candidate made seven of his 13 field goal attempts and had two assists and a steal in the blowout victory.
Purdue: F Robbie Hummel, 6-8 Sr. (16.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 37.1% 3s); G Lewis Jackson, 5-9 Sr. (10.3 ppg, 4.3 apg, 1.3 spg); G Terone Johnson, 6-2 So. (8.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 46.7% FG). Johnson had the game of his short Purdue career Friday, putting up 21 points (on 9-of-13 shooting), five assists, four rebounds and a steal as the Boilermakers advanced.
Why Each Team Dangerous
Kansas: There may not be a better 1-2 punch in the country than PF Robinson and PG Taylor. When Kansas is getting offensive production from other, as it did Friday with 15 points from Johnson, nine from Kevin Young and seven from Jeff Withey. Robinson gives the Jayhawks an edge against anybody, but particularly Purdue, which has almost no paint presence. The Jayhawk defense dominated an athletic Detroit team, holding them to 50 points (22 below its average) and 20-for-63 from the field. Despite being limited athletically (compared to past Kansas teams), this is a solid team and Bill Self has proven that he’s one of the elite coaches in the nation.
Purdue: The Boilermakers have done five things very well in winning five of their last seven games: 1). Dribble Penetration. Johnson and Jackson can both get into the lane and score or dish as well as any duo in the country; 2). 3-point shooting. In their last seven games, Purdue has made 67-of-154 3s (44 percent), and that includes a 5-for-16 against the Gaels; 3). Assist-to-turnover ratio. The Boilers lead the country at 1.55-to-1 and they have a plus-4 turnover margin; 4). Taking away opposing point guards. As they did Friday, holding St. Mary’s star Matthew Dellavedova to 12 points on 3-of-10 shooting; 5). Coaching. What Matt Painter has done with this crew, which lacks the talent of a second-round NCAA team, has been phenomenal.
Why Each Team is Vulnerable
Kansas: The Jayhawks perimeter defense was great against Detroit, but for the season, they allow opponents to shoot 34.2 percent from 3. That could be an issue against Hummel, D.J. Byrd and Ryne Smith. Kansas has no depth to speak of, particularly on the front line. If Robinson or Withey experience foul trouble, Kansas could be in real trouble. The Jayhawks took advantage of a lot of Detroit mental errors. They can’t count on that from a savvy Purdue team. Taylor can be mistake-prone and Kansas turns the ball over 13.4 times per game. If they’re sloppy on Sunday, the Boilermakers will take advantage of it.
Purdue: The Boilers did a reasonable job against the Gael bigs, but none of them were Robinson. The Kansas All-American should have a field day in the paint and on the glass against Purdue. Purdue hasn’t finished well at times this season. They blew late second-half leads to Xavier and Butler during the 2011 portion of the season, and St. Mary’s came back in the second half to take the lead after the Boilermakers led by 15 points early on. Purdue is one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the country at 65.7 percent, although the Boilers did hit four big ones down the stretch against St. Mary’s.
The Bottom Line: Kansas should win, but Purdue will get into the paint and hit enough 3-pointers to stay in what should be a high-scoring. Take the points and the under.
The Pick: Kansas 85, Purdue 79
Greg Against the Spread This Season: 216-165-6 (Through Friday, March 17)
Round of 32 Against the Spread: 19-12-1