WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Purdue Boilermakers will be the only team from the Hoosier state that will compete in an NCAA Tournament that will be played entirely in the Hoosier state.
The Boilers are a 4-seed in the South region and will face 13-seed North Texas in the opening round on Friday at 7:25 p.m. EDT inside Lucas Oil Stadium.
Head Coach Matt Painter’s young Boilermaker team made the tournament after posting an 18-9 record, in a season marred by the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s a different format (this year) with the pandemic,” said Painter after the announcement was made. “It’s unique in itself … we have some guys that have not only played in the NCAA Tournament, but you know they’ve played in an Elite Eight game, they’ve won a Big Ten championship so you know they’ve had some big-time experiences that hopefully helps them.”
They lost to Ohio State in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten postseason tournament last week. Painter is hopeful for a much different game from his squad against North Texas.
“They need to play like they did in the second half and not how they did in the first half. In a nutshell,” Painter bluntly said. “Honestly. In a knee-jerk reaction, I thought going back Ohio State was really good in the first half, but I thought we helped them.”
Treveon Williams, Eric Hunter, Jr., Aaron Wheeler, and Sacha Stefanovic make up the four players on the current Purdue roster that have experience making deep runs in the tournament.
Painter said he takes pride in knowing his team will be the only team from Indiana in the tournament.
“I didn’t really think along those lines,” he said. “But, just having pride in being in the tournament. You know, it’s hard. I think it’s just pride of getting the team you’re coaching, your alma mater, in the NCAA Tournament, because we have such a great following at Purdue.”
The Boilers likely have a tough road ahead if they get past North Texas in the first round. The South region features talented teams such as AP #2-ranked Baylor, #9 Ohio State, #14 Villanova, as well as Wisconsin and Arkansas.