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NCAA tournament first-round preview: No. 1 seed Purdue vs. No. 16 seed FDU

Mike Carmin03/17/23
Article written by:On3 imageMike Carmin
Purdue's Mason Gillis and Zach Edey against Indiana (Chad Krockover/GoldandBlack.com)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – For the second straight NCAA tournament, Purdue must deal with a small private school from New Jersey. Only this time, it’s in the opening game when the third-ranked Boilermakers, the top seed in the East Region, takes on No. 16 seed FDU on Friday in the first round at Nationwide Arena. The Knights defeated Texas Southern in a battle of 16 seeds on Wednesday in Dayton. Purdue lost to No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s in last year’s Sweet 16 in Philadelphia. The winner advances to Sunday’s second round against either No. 8 seed Memphis or No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic.

Where: Nationwide Arena (Columbus, Ohio)

When: Friday, 6:50 p.m.


Radio: Purdue Sports Network (WAZY locally)

In-game updates: GoldandBlack.com | Twitter @mike_carmin


Purdue: Roster | Schedule | Stats

FDU | Roster | Schedule | Stats


TeamAPCoachesNETKenPomKenPom Win%

ON PURDUE (29-5)

• The Boilermakers are the East Region’s No. 1 seed and will play a No. 16 seed for the first time since 1996. That year, Purdue struggled to put away Western Carolina before losing to Georgia in the second round. The Boilermakers will look to make quick work of FDU.

• Turnovers and 3-point shooting are keys for Purdue to make a deep postseason run. Keep the turnovers down and increase the number of successful 3-point baskets. The Boilermakers had more 3-pointers (20) than turnovers (18) in the Big Ten tournament.

• Would expect the Knights to play zone against Purdue to try and keep Zach Edey bottled up but the lob pass should be there. FDU will need to disrupt the Boilermakers’ vision on the perimeter to make the entry passes difficult. The Knights will likely try to draw Edey out of the paint area to create more space and driving opportunities.

• Purdue held its extra workout Thursday morning at Ohio State’s practice facility before moving to Nationwide Arena.


Projected Starters

Center — 15 Zach Edey (7-4, 290, Junior)

Named a consensus first-team All-American earlier this week earning the Most Outstanding Player at the Big Ten tournament. Scored 30 or more points in back-to-back games leading the Boilermakers to the conference tournament championship. Has posted double-doubles in six of his last seven games. Will tower over the No. 16 seed in Friday’s game.

Forward — 0 Mason Gillis (6-6, 230, Junior)

He was a warrior in the Big Ten tournament, diving on the floor for loose balls and crashing the boards. His energy is infectious and leads to hustle plays, not only from the New Castle native but everyone else. Totaled 32 points in the last three games and made 11 of 17 field goals.

Guard — 3 Braden Smith (6-0, 180, Freshman)

Was 0 of 8 from the field against Penn State but don’t overlook the seven assists and four rebounds. FDU will come after the freshman point guard with its fullcourt press and try to force the Boilermakers into turnovers.

Guard — 2 Fletcher Loyer (6-4, 185, Freshman)

Made 2 of 20 field goals the last four games after a 6 of 11 performance at Wisconsin. Has played with a calf issue the second part of the season but is now dealing with a bruised knee. Doesn’t seem to be getting enough elevation on his shots but he’s a hot streak away from regaining his stroke.

Guard — 5 Brandon Newman (6-5, 200, Junior)

Since moving into the starting lineup, the Boilermakers are 5-0, leaning on his defensive attitude, which has led to better play on the offensive end. Has reached double figures in two of the last four games and continues to be a force on the defensive boards.


Forward— 1 Caleb Furst (6-10, 230, Sophomore)

Minutes were limited in the Big Ten tournament due to Gillis playing well. Has a chance to see extended playing time Friday.

Guard/Forward — 25 Ethan Morton (6-7, 215, Junior)

Will need to be sharp defensively against the smaller and athletic Knights. Hasn’t scored in the last two games.

Forward/Center — 4 Trey Kaufman-Renn (6-9, 225, Redshirt Freshman)

Takes advantage of his minutes either by scoring or rebounding, and sometimes both.

Guard — 14 David Jenkins Jr. (6-1, 200, Senior)

Provided a spark in the conference tournament by hitting 8 of 12 from 3-point range, lifting the offense out of some of its struggles.

Guard/Forward — 11 Brian Waddell (6-8, 195, Redshirt Freshman)

Note: Freshman center Will Berg and wing Camden Heide will redshirt this season.

ON FDU (20-15)

• “We want Purdue to see this,” FDU coach Tobin Anderson said as he turned to the video camera in the locker room following Wednesday’s victory. “I walked into breakfast this morning and (assistant coach) Kam Murrell said to me. “ ’The more I watch Purdue, the more I think we can beat them.’ Let’s go shock the world.”

Anderson attempted to clarify his remarks Thursday during his press conference.

“Yeah, I probably didn’t want that out but I don’t think that makes a difference,” he said. “I want our guys to believe. Part of having success is like we’ve got to believe we have a chance to win.

• If not for Merrimack’s NCAA Division I transition period, the Knights wouldn’t have qualified for the NCAA tournament. Merrimack beat FDU in the Northeast Conference tournament final but coach Tobin Anderson’s team received the automatic bid, regardless of the outcome of the league title game.

• The Knights are the lowest-ranked team remaining (No. 299) in the NCAA tournament, according to kenpom.com


Forward — 5 Ansley Almonor (6-6, 219, Sophomore)

Recorded the second-highest point total of the season during Wednesday’s win over Texas Southern, scoring 23 points, including five 3-pointers. He was also 8 of 8 from the line. He’s the “big man” on FDU’s roster and will be responsible for defending Edey but will need help. Can cause the Boilermakers problems on the offensive end with his ability to play on the perimeter.

Guard — 1 Joe Munden Jr. (6-3, 188, Junior)

Scored a total of nine points in the previous two games before the NCAA tournament but totaled 17, including making 8 of 9 from the line in the victory in Dayton. Committed four of his team’s 14 turnovers.

Guard — 2 Demetre Roberts (5-8, 165, Grad)

Playing his fifth year of college basketball, the sturdy point guard is the team’s leader. Had 15 points, his fourth straight game of reaching double figures, and has the ability to get to the rim and make plays. Followed coach Tobin Anderson to FDU after last season.

Guard — 4 Grant Singleton (5-9 163, Grad)

Another transfer Anderson brought with him during the offseason. One of five in double figures against Texas Southern and also pulled down seven rebounds. Shooting 38.5% from 3-point range to lead the Knights.

Guard — 11 Sean Moore (6-4, 175, Junior)

The Columbus native has the opportunity to play in front of family and friends after attending nearby Reynoldsburg. Also transferred from St. Thomas Aquinas along with Roberts and Singleton. Was 4 of 4 from the field in Wednesday’s win.


Guard — 3 Heru Bligen (6-2, 183, Senior)

Started eight games earlier this season.

Guard— 12 Sebastien Lamaute (6-1, 198, Junior)

One of two players from Canada on the roster.

Forward —13 Jo’el Emanuel (6-6, 196, Freshman)

Forward — 21 Cameron Tweedy (6-4, 222, Sophomore)

Guard — 24 Brayden Reynolds (6-4, 222, Sophomore)


• Don’t look for Edey to guard Almonor on the perimeter.

“We’ll cross matchup and he’ll guard the other guy,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “I’m not giving up any secrets. Anybody that has a face-up five like that, we get Zach on the other guy and he guards him. We’ve done that all year. We’ve done that ever since Zach got here.”

“In our last game, Zach guarded (Penn State’s) backup point guard for about four or five possessions. It looks funny – 7-4 guy guarding a 6-foot guy out there. But it’s the lesser of all evils. We normally in those situations when you have a big that can stretch the defense, we put him on the guy. Doesn’t mean that guy can’t expose him. We just find the guy that doesn’t shoot as well from the perimeter.”

• Texas Southern scored 46 points in the paint against FDU. Can Edey come close to that number Friday?


While the Knights are confident about playing the Boilermakers, they can’t deal with Edey. Ohio State struggled with the lack of size and strength in the Big Ten tournament and in the second regular-season game and the Buckeyes have better athletes. Purdue’s frontline should have its way against FDU. Where the Knights can hurt the Boilermakers is with the press. We’ve seen the struggles throughout the season but Purdue can easily go over the top and should attack in the open floor.