Setting : Reliant Stadium will be a buzz Friday night, as Matt Painter’s No. 4 seed Purdue Boilermakers (29—5) clash with Mike Krzyzewski and his No.1 seed Duke Blue Devils (31—5).
Plot : The Big Ten and the Atlantic Coast Conference collide with a trip to the South Regional Final on the line.
Sub —plot : Purdue has redefined themselves since the injury to Robbie Hummel.
Flashback : Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer scored 20 a piece, as the Blue Devil downed the Boilermakers 76—60 as part of last year’s ACC—Big Ten Challenge.
Purdue holds a 4—2 edge in the all—time series. Grant Hill led Duke to a 69—60 triumph over Purdue in the 1994 Southeast Regional final.
This is Duke’s 34th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and 25th trip to the Sweet 16. Purdue has been a Dance participant 24 times, while only eight times have the Boilermakers advanced to the Sweet 16.
Foreshadowing : Fifty—one former Blue Devils have made their way to the NBA. Fourteen of those alums currently dot NBA rosters: Shane Battier, Carlos Boozer, Elton Brand, Luol Deng, Chris Duhon, Mike Dunleavy, Gerald Henderson, Grant Hill, Dahntay Jones, Corey Maggette, Josh McRoberts, Shavlik Randolph, J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams.
Thirty Boilermakers have earned paychecks in the Association. Former Boilermakers, Brian Cardinal, Carl Landry and Brad Miller lace them up currently.
Conflict : In the regional quarter—finals Purdue held Texas A&M to 55 points after 40 minutes of play. The Boilermakers eventually won the contest in overtime. Painter’s squad will need to equal that defensive effort against Duke, but it won’t be easy.
Duke averages over 77 points a game. The Blue Devil front court holds a +6 rebounding margin, including 14 and a half offensive rebounds a game.
The emergence of Brian Zoubek and freshman Mason Plumlee gives Duke a well—rounded attack. Zoubek grabbed 13 rebounds to go with 14 points in Duke’s victory over California.
Make no mistake though, Purdue must slow down Duke’s big three of Jon Scheyer, Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler. The trio combine for 53 points and 13 rebounds per game.
Scheyer scores 18 a game to go with an assist to turnover ratio of 2.9:1. If Duke holds a late lead, Scheyer is deadly from the line. For the season, Scheyer is 174 for 198 (87.9 percent) from the free throw line.
Singler has scored double figures in Duke’s last 21 games.
Smith averages 17 and the junior guard mixes a long —range game (50 for 130 from behind the arc) with a quick first step that allows him to get into the paint.
Lance Thomas scores slightly below five a game and grabs 4.8 rebounds.
E’Twaun Moore scores 16 a game and JaJuan Johnson adds 15, but offensive numbers won’t be the focus when the ball goes up. Keaton Grant, Chris Kramer, and Lewis Jackson will be counted on to slow the Blue Devil attack.
Purdue’s rebounding margin is a negative one. The Boilermakers cannot afford to give Duke an advantage on the glass. Purdue’s opponents have hit 35 percent behind the arc. Duke finishes at a clip of 37.9 percent.
The Boilermakers have plenty of ground to cover. They will need to guard behind the arc and keep Duke off the boards.
Resolution : Purdue will not go down without a fight, but the Blue Devils have too much firepower. With Zoubek and Plumlee contributing in the paint, Duke will be too much to handle for Purdue.