March Madness Preview: #3 Purdue Boilermakers vs. #14 Yale Bulldogs


2:00 PM ET


Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Cap. 17,341)

2021-22 Record

Purdue (27-7) (14-6)

Yale (19-11) (11-3)

NET Rankings

Purdue- 13

Yale – 142

All-Time Series Wins

Purdue – 2

Yale – 0

Last Win In Series

December 27th, 1962 at Lambert Fieldhouse in West Lafayette, Indiana (77-66)


Projected Starting Lineups


#2 G Eric Hunter Jr. (6’4” 175, SR) 6.4 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 1.9 APG

#23 G Jaden Ivey (6’4” 200, SO) 17.4 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.2 APG

#55 G Sasha Stefanovic (6’5″ 200, SR) 10.7 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 3.1 APG

#0 F Mason Gillis (6’6″ 230, SO) 6.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 0.9 APG

#15 C Zach Edey (7’4” 285, SO) 14.6 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.3 APG


#5 G Azar Swain (6’0″ 185, SR)  19.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.6 APG

#0 G Jalen Gabbidon (6’5″ 190, SR) 11.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.4 APG

#2 G Bez Mbeng (6’4” 195, FR) 4.9 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 1.8 APG

#22 F Matt Knowling (6’5″ 195, SO)  7.1 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1.3 APG

#35 F Isaiah Kelly (6’7”, 215, JR) 7.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 1.0 APG 

Stat Comparison

Points Per Game79.872.3
Points Allowed Per Game68.868.8
Rebounds Per Game38.636
Rebounds Allowed Per Game13.635.3
Assists Per Game16.611.9
Steals Per Game4.66.2
Blocks Per Game3.53.2
Turnovers Per Game11.712.9
Field Goal %49.3%44.4%
Opposing Field Goal %42.7%42.3%
3 Point %39.1%33%
Opposing 3 Point %33.5%30.5%
Free Throw %70.3%73.9%

Last Five Games

Purdue (3-2)

  • Mar 13: Loss vs. Iowa (75-66)
  • Mar 12: Win vs. Michigan State (75-70)
  • Mar 11: Win vs. Penn State (69-61)
  • Mar 5: Win vs. Indiana (69-67)
  • Mar 1: Loss @ Wisconsin (70-67)

Yale (4-1)

  • Mar 13: Win vs. Princeton (66-64)
  • Mar 12: Win vs. Penn (67-61)
  • Mar 5: Win vs. Brown (74-65)
  • Feb 26: Loss @ Cornell (71-65)
  • Feb 22: Win @ Dartmouth (66-61)

What to Watch For

In the immortal words of Jon Rothstein, “This is March.”  Anything can happen in the Big Dance.  I even began writing this as #2 Kentucky lost to #15 Saint Peter’s.  Last year Purdue was on the same end of one of those dramatic first round losses when they lost to #13 North Texas 78-69 in OT.  Purdue has had a year to let that loss motivate them.  During yesterday’s media day Trevion Williams said,

“We’ve watched film on that game pretty much all summer. That was kind of our drive and motivation, becoming the team that we are. It still motivates us to this day. You appreciate experiences like that.  These guys (Edey and Ivey) were freshmen, and they were young.  They came into it and didn’t know what to expect. Now they know what it feels like.  In March Madness you can be beaten on any given night.  You gotta respect everybody.  Everybody’s here for a reason.”

Needless to say, Purdue is coming into this matchup with a levelhead and poised approach.  Standing in Purdue’s way is the Ivy League tournament champs, the Yale Bulldogs. On paper Purdue has an extreme size advantage with Yale’s tallest significant contributor coming in at just 6’8”.  Edey and Williams are going to need to take as much advantage of that as possible on the offensive end and hit a high % of their post ups.  On the flipside, Williams and Edey are likely going to have to play a significant amount of minutes guarding on the perimeter.  While with smaller squads that would typically mean a significant number of 3-point attempts, Yale is 225th in attempts.  Instead Yale is a dribble drive team, lead by leading scorer Azar Swaim.  Swaim can score in a multitude of ways, but has an especially strong mid-range game.  Eric Hunter Jr will have his hands full on the defensive end guarding the two time Ivey League first teamer.  Yale freshman Bez Mbeng is pretty quick off the dribble and gets solid penetration and is a better scorer than his numbers might indicate.  Combo Forward Matt Knowling is a tough matchup because of his length and the fact he is a lefty, which on these short scouting games is critical to remember. 

On the offensive side Purdue is going to look to get its V8 engine running and humming.  Of particular note is Sasha’s 3-point shooting, which since he dislocated his finger against Indiana in the final regular game of the season has been well below his average at just 3 of 14.  Getting him comfortable and shooting well is likely going to be a priority right after throwing it inside to the bigs.  In the same regard Purdue will want to keep Eric Hunter hot from the outside as he has gone a scorching 10 of 17 from deep over the last 5 games.  This was been in large part to Purdue’s great inside-out passing game from Trevion Williams, but this can often be a two sided coin.  In those 5 games where Hunter has been on fire from deep, Trevion has 13 turnovers most of which stemming from his attempts to make difficult passes, that frankly only he could possibly make.  This is only part of a larger turnover issue that has plagued Purdue all season even though they have shown promise in taking care of the ball on multiple occasions.  Look for Purdue to have a short leash for players making poor decisions with the ball throughout the entire tournament.

Purdue may have got caught looking ahead to the round of 32 last year, but in March it is truly a one game at a time approach that leads to success.  Matt Painter and Purdue are very well aware of of their strengths and weaknesses heading into this tournament and are a different more mature squad from last year.  Look for the Boilers to stick to their bread and better against an undersized Yale squad and work to get their long range game firing on all cylinders.  


Radio: Purdue Radio Network


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