Headlines, Bulletin Board Materials, and The Cinderella Story
Sometimes the narratives write themselves and when #1 Purdue takes on #16 FDU in Columbus, Ohio on Friday evening, there are plenty of obvious headlines to find.
The most obvious story would be size. FDU is the smallest team in the country, while Purdue has 7-4 Zach Edey, college basketball’s most dominant big man. Zach Edey is already Big Ten Player of the Year and most likely National Player of the Year after finishing the season scoring 22.3 points per game and grabbing 12.8 rebounds.
Fairleigh Dickinson’s tallest player is 6-6. They are the smallest team in the country. His starts are 5-8, 5-9, 6-3, 6-4 and 6-6.
Purdue’s average height is 6-6.
There is also another discrepancy in value in their seeding. Purdue is the #1 seed while FDU is #16.
It’s done, the ultimate Cinderella story, and the #2 seed has already fallen with Princeton taking down Arizona on Thursday. So you can forgive FDU coach Tobin Anderson for cheering his team on Wednesday after defeating Texas Southern in a play-in game, “I went to breakfast this morning and (assistant coach) Kam Murrell asked me Said, ‘The more I watch Purdue, the more I think we can beat them.’ Let’s surprise the world.”
But like David, defeating Zach Eddy and Purdue’s Goliath will be a tall task.
Fairleigh Dickinson 84-61 at Texas Southern
FDU was on pace and three-point performance in Dayton as they won their #16 seed play-in game against Texas Southern.
Five different players hit a three and as a team, FDU shot 11-27 from the perimeter. Ansley Almonor led all scorers with 27 points, but he scored in his five starts. All five starters scored in double-figures, with just 6 points coming off the bench.
But more than his perimeter shooting was his ability to get in the paint and get to the line. Almonor shot 8 of 8 accurately from the line and as a team, FDU made 31 attempts and scored 27 of those tries.
They would try to use Purdue’s size against them, running with pace and driving by Eddie and Purdue’s veterans.
As a team, FDU is only a mediocre three-point shooting team at the moment, making 34.7% of its three-point attempts. They knock down 75% of their free throw attempts.
But real concerns exist, obviously, about his rebounding and his defense. They have the 359th worst ranked defense in the country. Even if they can increase the pace, it looks like they don’t have an answer to Zach Eddy or Purdue’s top-10 offense.
Purdue’s goals in Columbus should be simple. Take their opponent seriously, rebound and play hard. They have more talent and size everywhere, and they can use FDU’s insistence on running and playing the gun as practice against a team that isn’t in the Big Ten.
The advantage of Zach Edey goes without saying. Look for Purdue’s bench to really make a difference against a skinny FDU team that will somehow try to avoid fumbles on and off the glass.
Trey Kaufman-Renn hasn’t had many chances to play against the small bigs, but if Purdue moves up soon, expect him to get plenty of opportunities to make his first NCAA tournament appearance.
matt painter quotes
At the podium on Thursday, Matt Painter had this to say about FDU: “Like everyone, we’re excited to be in the NCAA Tournament. Our guys have worked very hard to be in a great position, but really Looking forward to watching. The challenge of playing Fairleigh Dickinson, who pulled off a great win last night. Did some really cool stuff.
Really like his back court, his quickness, his skill, his ability to play the basketball and his overall aggressiveness. He has interchangeable pieces, he’s tough to go against, but his athleticism and his length.
And we have to do a good job of taking care of the basketball on the offensive end and be able to contain them while guarding the 3-point line. He hit seven 3’s in the first half which was a huge difference at halftime. After that made another pair.
But in fact, Fairleigh was really impressed with Dickinson. Really good coach. You can see that they are attached at both ends of the floor. And just looking forward to that challenge.”
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