The Big Ten could make some noise in the NCAA Tournament this season. All the top teams in the conference have gone on hot streaks at some point during the season. Purdue is currently in the middle of one.
The Sun Belt is a perennial one-bid conference in the NCAA Tournament. Arkansas-Little Rock hopes to duplicate what Georgia State did in the tournament last season…survive and advance.
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The Purdue Boilermakers haven’t consistently been an NCAA Tournament team in a few years. They made it last year after a two year absence. Their team has a ton of talent lead by A.J. Hammons and the fantastic freshman Caleb Swanigan. They are arguably the second-hottest team in the Big Ten (just behind Michigan State). The Boilermakers only had one loss to an unranked team this season (Illinois). Head coach Matt Painter has them prepared for the tournament.
The Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans are a good story. This is head coach Chris Beard’s first Division-I head coaching job. He’s been an assistant for two decades and he was also the head coach of a semi-pro basketball team just a few years ago. It’s crazy to think that the first year he’s at Arkansas-Little Rock that they’d be going to the Big Dance.
Arkansas-Little Rock would need to light the gym on fire from behind the arc to beat Purdue. The Trojans do have some good shooters, but Purdue is more physical and athletic. It would be an awesome story, but the Boilermakers will advance.
Prediction: #5 Purdue Boilermakers
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.