The next hurdle in Kansas’ path to a potential Final Four berth is a relative newcomer to this stage of the NCAA Tournament.
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Nobody from the Purdue roster has played in the Sweet 16 before. The Boilermakers have not reached the Elite Eight in 17 years.
So how did they get here? Let’s take a look at the Big Ten Conference champions by the numbers:
5 — While Purdue sophomore big man Caleb Swanigan draws the publicity, the Boilermakers are actually quite good from the perimeter. They have five players who shoot better than 40 percent from three-point range, and all five have unleashed at least 81 long-distance attempts. But Dakota Mathias is the primary name to watch here. He is a 45.8 percent three-point shooter.
76 — Purdue rebounds 76 percent of its opponents’ misses, a figure that ranks eighth nationally. That should come as no surprise with Swanigan and 7-foot-2 reserve Isaac Hayes manning the front court.
3 — A major part of the Boilermakers’ defensive strategy revolves around not fouling. Purdue ranks third in the nation in fewest free-throw attempts allowed per possession. Villanova was No. 1 in the category.
2.6 — While Purdue is noted for its distinct size advantage, it hasn’t translated to shot-blocking. The Boilermakers average just 2.6 blocks per game, which ranked 13th in the 14-team Big Ten conference.
28 — Swanigan has 28 career double-doubles. In only two seasons, he broke the Big Ten all-time record.