In a tournament that has been taken over by Cinderellas, Sunday’s Game to Watch is a matchup that everyone anticipated. Four-seed Purdue clashes with five-seed Texas A&M, and the winner will face either Duke or Cal in the Sweet 16.
The Aggies edged Utah State 69-53 in the opening round, while the Boilermakers defeated Siena 72-64. Both teams have used tough, hard-nosed defenses to win games throughout the year.
Texas A&M rank second in the Big 12 by allowing only 64.5 points per game. Purdue ranks third in the Big Ten by giving up 61 ppg. Defense wins championships, and the winner of this game gets plane tickets to Houston for the Sweet 16.
Freshman forward Khris Middleton leads the way for the Aggies. He knocked down a career-high 19 points, and made 5-of-6 shots from behind the arc, in the first round game. Middleton has averaged 16 points over his last four games. And with a trip to the Aggies home state on the line, the excitement will be running high. Texas A&M have won 10 of their last 13 games, and streakiness is a huge factor under the lights in March.
Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson, who was picked as our MVP from Friday’s action, led the Boilermakers past Siena with 23 points and 15 rebounds. Johnson isn’t just a one game fizzle; he is a star, with 83 points in the last four games.
In this defensive-minded game, it just might come down to who gets to the line and hits their freebies. That edge goes to Purdue, which shoots over 72% from the stripe. Texas A&M is right behind that mark with a little over 66%. This matchup will be the Big 12 versus Big 10, in a tourney that is now full of mid-majors. It is time for the big boys from the BCS conferences to flex their muscle and put on a good show, and the winner heads to Houston.
For what it is worth, I feel like the Aggies will take care of business and try to save my bracket. Good luck with that though, Ags.
Tipoff for the Aggies versus the Boilermakers is at 4pm.
– Jonathan Weaver