3 causes Purdue can upset UConn in nationwide championship sport


The narrative has been in every single place for the final couple of weeks: UConn is a juggernaut, a monster, an unstoppable power. A few of us have even written that the Huskies changing into faculty basketball’s first back-to-back nationwide champion since Florida in 2006-07 feels inevitable.

However what if we’ve all simply been overlooking the staff that has gave the impression to be the Huskies’ equal for the reason that second this season tipped off in November? What if we’re simply foolishly glossing over the truth that the one impediment standing between UConn and a second straight nationwide title simply so occurs to be the most important and most important impediment within the sport?

What if we’ve been this incorrect all month?

Listed below are three the explanation why Purdue might pull off a “shouldn’t have been that surprising” upset in Monday night time’s males’s nationwide championship sport.

1. UConn hasn’t confronted a staff this good within the final two tournaments

The numbers surrounding UConn’s final two runs by March Insanity are astounding. The Huskies haven’t simply received 11 straight video games within the NCAA event, they’ve received 11 straight video games within the NCAA event all by 13 factors or extra, simply overlaying the unfold in every contest.

“We make a tough event look straightforward,” UConn head coach Danny Hurley mentioned after his staff’s 86-72 win over Alabama on Saturday. “It’s loopy.”

Right here’s the opposite factor, although: UConn additionally hasn’t confronted a No. 1 or a No. 2 seed in these 11 NCAA event video games.

Purdue isn’t simply “the following staff” on Connecticut’s postseason freeway of destruction, it’s with out query one of the best staff the Huskies have confronted in an NCAA event sport below Hurley.

Let’s do not forget that had the Boilermakers not misplaced within the Massive Ten event semifinals, it will have virtually definitely been Matt Painter’s staff, and never Hurley’s, which might have earned the No. 1 general seed on Choice Sunday. Whereas UConn might have regarded like one of the best staff for the majority of the season, it was Purdue which had the extra full resume proper up till Choice Sunday Eve.

Let’s additionally do not forget that Purdue has been almost as dominant as UConn throughout this event. The Boilermakers have received all however one in all their video games within the large dance by 12 factors or extra. Their solely “shut name” throughout this run has been a 72-66 triumph within the Elite Eight over a second-seeded Tennessee staff that’s with out query higher than any of the opponents Connecticut has needed to undergo up so far.

Purdue is No. 2 on KenPom, and would doubtless vault into the highest spot with a win this night. The earlier highest-ranked KenPom staff the Huskies have confronted within the event during the last two years? No. 8 Gonzaga in final season’s Elite Eight.

The Boilermakers have one of the best participant and probably the most distinctive problem within the sport on their roster, and in contrast to final yr, they’ve a bolstered supporting forged that may beat one of the best groups within the nation in the event that they hyper-focus on the massive man within the center.

Nobody is aware of how UConn goes to reply within the remaining minutes of an in depth sport on a stage like this, as a result of it hasn’t occurred but. Purdue is greater than able to placing the Huskies in that place for the primary time in two years.

2. Zach Edey’s presence ought to reduce the affect of UConn’s greatest benefit

Tristen Newton was a First Workforce All-American this season. Stephon Citadel is nearly definitely going to be a lottery decide on this summer season’s NBA Draft. Cam Spencer is an murderer in key moments, and Alex Karaban has the expertise of being a starter and producing on this identical stage a yr in the past.

None of these guys have been UConn’s postseason MVP.

That distinction belongs to the person within the center, sophomore middle Donovan Clingan, who’s averaging 16.2 ppg, 10.8 rpg, and three.5 bpg whereas taking pictures slightly below 70 % from the sphere within the NCAA event. The Most Excellent Participant of the East Regional has been virtually unimaginable to attain on within the paint all through the event.


The difficulty for UConn is that Clingan doesn’t current wherever close to the issue for Purdue that he presents for some other staff within the nation.

Zach Edey is greater than Clingan, and if we’re going to get on to the purpose, he’s higher than Clingan. The Husky middle will get his within the first assembly of 7-footers in a title sport since Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon in 1984, however dominating sport six the identical method he dominated video games 1-5 appears like an impossibility.

UConn had an elite large man in Adama Sanogo final season, however he didn’t carry the Huskies to final Monday of the season the way in which that Clingan has carried this group. Jordan Hawkins was the Most Excellent Participant of the 2023 West Regional, and Newton was the participant who led the staff in scoring and rebounding within the title sport.

UConn definitely has the weapons essential to make up for a dramatic dip in manufacturing from Clingan on Monday night time, but when these weapons don’t step up, there’s no security internet there for them on this spherical.

3. The previous has no bearing on this sport

I’m not attempting to say that UConn doesn’t need to be favored on this sport, they do. However the truth that the unfold is 6.5 and nobody outdoors of West Lafayette appears to be giving Purdue an opportunity feels … unusual.

It’s onerous to not suppose that the March reputations of each these applications and the narratives surrounding them aren’t taking part in an element right here.

Connecticut is the king of this stage. They ripped by the NCAA event in historic trend final season, and are a blowout of Purdue away from finishing probably the most dominant run to a title in March Insanity historical past. The Huskies have received 5 nationwide championships of their historical past — all since 1999 — and are 5-0 in nationwide title video games.

Purdue, in the meantime, has a declare to the doubtful title of “greatest program to by no means win a nationwide championship.” The stigma of March disappointment has been connected to them for many years, however by no means as strongly as during the last three years, after they had seen their seasons ended by the hands of a 13-seed, a 15-seed and a 16-seed, respectively. The Boilermakers additionally hail from a convention that, famously, has not produced a nationwide champion since 2000.

Each predictive metric on the market has this as a sport that will likely be determined by two or three factors, and but right here we’re, with a 6.5-point unfold that a lot of the betting public believes UConn will simply cowl. It’s honest to marvel if the identical can be true had Purdue received a nationwide championship, say two or three years in the past, and been to a handful of Closing Fours during the last 15 seasons.

The comforting factor for Purdue followers is that completely nothing in regards to the previous goes to have any bearing on what takes place Monday night in Glendale. The Boilermakers have regarded like a worthy challenger to UConn’s throne for on daily basis of the final 5 months, and now they’ve their alternative to show it.