South Region First Round Prediction & Free Pick: #3 Purdue vs. #14 Old Dominion

Date | AuthorJonathan Willis

Last Updated: 2019-03-19

It’s been three years since a No. 14 last beat a No. 3, but the No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers are on high alert. Purdue was upset as a No. 5 seed by Arkansas-Little Rock in 2016, and the Boilermakers still have that defeat fresh in their minds. The No. 14 Old Dominion Monarchs are looking to play spoiler.

This South Region First Round game will be one of the last games on Thursday, March 21. These teams are slated to tip off from the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut around 9:50 p.m. ET in a game that will be broadcast on TBS. Purdue is a 13-point favorite over Old Dominion, and this game has one of the lowest over/unders of the day at 127.5. The winner will go on to face the winner of Villanova and St. Mary’s.

Tournament History

Purdue has been an NCAA Tournament mainstay, but the Boilermakers have only made it to the Final Four twice. They were one of the final four teams in the country in 1969 and 1980, and they finished runner-up to UCLA during the Bruins’ incredible run throughout the 1960s. They have made it out of the first weekend in each of the last two seasons, and they beat Vermont by 10 points in 2017 and Cal State Fullerton by 26 points in 2018. Purdue has not made it past the Sweet 16 in nearly two decades though.

Old Dominion is making its 13th trip to the NCAA Tournament, and the Monarchs are looking to make it to the Sweet 16 for the first time ever. They have not had much luck in March, with a 3-9 record in the first round of the tournament, and their most recent victory came in 2010 when they bested Notre Dame 51-50 as a No. 11 seed.

How They Got Here

It took some time for Purdue to get going this year. The Boilermakers lost five of their first six games against power conference opponents, and it looked like a fifth straight NCAA Tournament appearance might be hard to come by with a 7-5 record heading into Christmas. However, Purdue went on a tear where it won 16 out of 18 with multiple wins over ranked opponents and finished the regular season 23-8. The Boilermakers weren’t punished at all for an early exit from the Big 12 Tournament, still earning one of the top 12 seeds.

Throughout the season, the best team in Conference USA was Old Dominion, and the Monarchs held serve in their conference tournament to earn the conference’s automatic bid. Even though their resume wouldn’t have been good enough to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament if they ended up losing, they have a gripe that they should have earned a No. 13 seed after beating VCU and Syracuse in non-conference play.

Preview

There aren’t many offenses in the country better than Purdue. The Boilermakers have the fifth-most efficient offense in the country according to Ken Pomeroy, and that’s because they maximize their possessions. Purdue is 26th in the nation in turnover percentage (15.9 percent), and the Boilermakers are ranked in the top 20 in offensive rebounds. They grab more than 12 offensive boards per game on offense.

Old Dominion is one of the least efficient offenses in the country. The Monarchs are ranked outside the top 300 according to Pomeroy’s numbers, and they are one of the worst two-point shooting teams in the nation. They are hitting a scant 44.5 percent of their two-point field goals and that inability to get buckets in the paint is a big problem. None of their starters are shooting better than 42.5 percent from the floor, and that’s not a good sign heading into the tournament.

The Monarchs do have one of the best defenses around though. They have the 14th best defense in the country in terms of effective field goal percentage, and they collapse on their opponents well. That being said, they aren’t used to playing teams with the size of Purdue, and Matt Haarms could go off. Haarms is hitting 62.7 percent of his field goals this season, and he should play more than he usually does against a four-guard offense that isn’t very efficient from the floor.

Pick: Purdue Boilermakers -13

This is a really bad match-up for Old Dominion. The Monarchs just aren’t good enough on the offensive end, and the defense will have a hard time stopping the Boilermakers. I see Purdue winning this one by at least 20.

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