Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Purdue Arizona Storylines

Purdue will face the Arizona Wildcats Friday evening in the first round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament. It's a tough draw for a Purdue team that has gotten by this year largely by playing tough defense and generally overachieving with modest talent. Arizona scores the most points of any team in the Pac-10 averaging 78 points per contest and also is second in field goal percentage hitting 48% of their shots. The Indy Star not surprisingly is going with the Wildcats, but were nice enough to map out Purdue's path to the Final Four. The following are some storylines heading into Friday's game.

ARIZONA'S OFFENSIVE FIREPOWER
As mentioned earlier, Arizona boasts the most potent offense in the Pac-10. They are led by Marcus Williams (18 ppg), Ivan Radenovic (16 ppg), super frosh Chase Budinger (15 ppg), and Mustafa Shakur (14 ppg). Arizona has been held to less than 70 points eight times this season, losing six of those contests. Arizona coach Lute Olsen has said that he feels his team is ready for Purdue's defensive style of basketball after facing UCLA and Washington State in conference play. The Bruins and Cougars play a similar style to Purdue's and went a collective 4-0 against the Wildcats this year. Keys to victory for Purdue is to slow the game down and disrupt the Wildcats' transition offense. Mustafa Shakur....meet Chris Kramer.

LOOKING AHEAD TO FLORIDA
As soon as the Midwest bracket was announced everyone, including Arizona coach Lute Olsen, started looking ahead to a matchup between #8 Arizona and #1 Florida. GOAZCATS.com has written about how unfair Arizona's seeding is because they have to go through Florida and also about how Arizona's seniors want to leave a legacy by making the Final Four. It would certainly be to Purdue's favor if the Wildcats were looking past them as much as the Arizona media. There is no date with Florida without a win over Purdue.

PURDUE'S TURNAROUND
Matt Painter's rebuilding project of the Boilermaker basketball program is definitely ahead of schedule. A turnaround of 9 wins to 21 wins and a NCAA Tournament berth for a team picked to finish 8th in the Big Ten really shows what an outstanding coaching job Painter has done this year. Even if the Boilers are one and done in the NCAA Tournament, this season is an overwhelming success. That said, Coach Painter's Boilers are not just happy to be there, they want to "do some damage."