(7) Saint Mary’s vs. (10) Purdue Preview
Senior NBA Writer & College Basketball Editor
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(7) Saint Mary’s Gaels
For the first time in school history the Gaels won the regular season championship outright along with the conference tournament championship. The accomplishment is a true testament to the tremendous job Randy Bennett has done with the program. The Gaels are a perimeter-oriented team that looks to spread out defenses and attack them off of the dribble. They score 74 points a game, making seven threes on average at a 35 percent clip. They’re a really good rebounding team, outrebounding their opponents by seven on average. The six-foot-six, 240 lb. bulldozer Rob Jones is the catalyst behind that, grabbing 10 a night to go along with his 14 points and two assists. Matthew Dellavedova is another product of the Australia pipeline that has served the Gaels so well. He leads the team in points (15.4) and assists (6.5). The Gaels’ goal is to repeat last year’s feat of winning multiple games. If they do so, it’ll only be the second time in school history. They’ll need Stephen Holt, who suffered a late-season knee injury, to be healthy.
(10) Purdue Boilermakers
There may not be a better story in this year’s NCAA Tournament that that of Boilermakers senior leader Robbie Hummel. Hummel was one of the best players in the country in 2009-2010, likely on his way to being a first round pick before tearing his ACL late in the year. He suffered another ACL tear prior to the start of the 2010-2011 season. While a lot of players would have moved on, Hummel kept faith, worked hard in rehab and is back in action. He leads the Boilermakers, who score 72 points a game as a team, with 16 points and seven rebounds a night. The Boilermakers are the most disciplined team offensively in the field, giving the ball away less than nine times a contest. In Hummel, Ryne Smith and D.J. Byrd, they have three players who can really shoot it from long distance. Lewis Jackson does a fine job of getting them the basketball where they can catch and shoot. They lack size, which forces them to struggle on the boards. Against the RPI Top 25, they were just 2-7.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Saint Mary’s. The Gaels have built up a lot of momentum and will be able to play at a pace offensively that the Boilermakers won’t be able to keep up with.
Who do you think is going win? Chime in by leaving a comment below!