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COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 16 Big Ten Tournament - Purdue vs Wisconsin

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The Purdue Boilermakers once again enter the NCAA Tournament as a #1-seed and will play a #16-seed in their first game on Friday.  

Even with all the expectations and pressure that comes with that for this program, Purdue head coach Matt Painter is optimistic, especially given how his team finished the season. He expressed as much during his appearance on Tuesday’s edition of The Ride With JMV.  

“I thought our team finished the season really strong…Our last three games were against tournament teams. To be able to beat Michigan State and Wisconsin at home, have a big win at Illinois, then obviously beat Michigan State again in the tournament. We didn’t play great, I didn’t think against Michigan State, I thought we made enough necessary plays coming down the stretch to be able to win it. We were in a position to win the game at Wisconsin, we just didn’t finish the game.” 

The loss in the Big Ten Tournament did not discourage Painter, or even most Boilermaker fans. In fact, it seemingly reinforced something that has long been known; the real focus is on the NCAA Tournament, and finally conquering their March demons. 

“It’s just one of those things after going through last year and winning the Big Ten Tournament, and then obviously the tough loss that we had going through that, and you just kind of prepare to win and prepare to lose at that point, to say ‘Okay, what’s the most important thing?’ Well the most important thing is the NCAA Tournament. We really talked about that before we even went to the tournament and just said ‘No matter what happens, we’re going forward and we’re going to get excited about playing in the NCAA Tournament and have big time energy.’” 

For some Boiler fans, being a #1-seed and facing a #16-seed might bring up a bad case of déjà vu. Coach Painter is not one of those people, and he told JMV about why he feels this year could be different. 

“The different feel is the fact that we’ve shot the ball so much better than the year before…You’ve got to have two-way players, and you’ve got to have guys that can help you on both ends of the court…I think we ended up the three-point shooting team in the country behind Kentucky. When you have a guy like Zach Edey you’ve got to have that balance, and our ability to shoot the basketball this year has really, really given us that balance, but more than anything I think it just gives our team confidence especially going down the stretch. Just executing, taking what the defense gives you, and just taking your shots.” 

Listen to JMV’s full conversation with Boilermakers head coach Matt Painter down below, and tune into The Ride With JMV weekdays from 3-6pm on 93.5/107.5 The Fan! 

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