Both teams have reached the Final Four twice but not for a long time. Purdue made it 1969 and 1980; Virginia reached the final weekend in 1981 and ’84. The Cavaliers feel comfortable at KFC Yum! Center, home of ACC foe Louisville. Virginia is 5-1 in this arena since Louisville joined the conference in 2014.
Matchup to watch: Purdue’s three-point shooting vs. Virginia’s defense. The No. 3 seed Boilermakers displayed their outside shooting prowess with 15 threes in beating Tennessee 99-94 on Thursday. Purdue averages 9.9 made threes per game. Conversely, top-seeded Virginia ranks No. 1 nationally in three-point defense, holding opponents to 27.8 percent shooting.
X-factor: Purdue’s Matt Haarms. The 7-3 center can change the game with his hustle and interior defense. Haarms’ long arms allows him to be disruptive by blocking or altering shots. Purdue’s backcourt of Carsen Edwards and Ryan Cline command the most attention but Haarms is a unique player who can affect games with his nonstop energy.
Coach vs. Coach: This is a matchup of two terrific coaches, Purdue’s Matt Painter and Virginia’s Tony Bennett. Both have built consistent programs and have a history of developing players within their systems and style of play. It’s hard to give an edge in this category.
Virginia 67, Purdue 65. Virginia struggled offensively against Oregon, but the Cavaliers defense is one of the nation’s best. Purdue’s Edwards takes a lot of three-pointers, so he will need to be efficient to give the Boilermakers a chance.