Louisville, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - Second-round action in the NCAA Tournament's Midwest Regional features the ninth-seeded Purdue Boilermakers taking on the eighth-seeded Cincinnati Bearcats at the KFC Yum! Center on Thursday evening.
The winner of this game will move into this weekend's third round and take on either top-seeded and top-ranked Kentucky or Hampton.
Matt Painter's Boilermakers had a nice season, entering this event with a 21-12 overall record. The team finished tied for third-place in the Big Ten with a 12-6 league ledger. Purdue knocked off Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament last week (64-59) before losing to tourney champion Wisconsin the next day (71-51). The Boilermakers are taking part in their 27th NCAA Tournament and first since 2012. The team is 35-26 overall in this event.
Despite a change in leadership with Mick Cronin's departure for health reasons, the Bearcats still delivered this season, entering the postseason with a 22-10 record. Interim head coach Larry Davis led the team to a 15-8 mark. Cincinnati's run in the American Athletic Conference Tournament was short-lived, as the team bowed to Connecticut in the quarterfinals (57-54). Cincinnati is taking part in its 29th NCAA Tournament. The Bearcats are 43-27 all-time with national championships in both 1961 and 1962.
Cincinnati has won both previous meetings with Purdue. The last one was a 79-59 rout in 2004 in Indianapolis.
While Purdue isn't really known as a team that will light up scoreboards, its 69.9 ppg this season has come on an efficient .453 shooting. In addition, the Boilermakers have done a nice job in terms of rebounding, boasting of a +4.5 rebounding margin.
Junior center A.J. Hammons is the anchor down low for the Boilermakers. The 7- footer is converting over 53 percent from the floor and tops the team in scoring (11.8 ppg), rebounding (6.5 rpg) and blocked shots (95). He led the Big Ten and ranks 12th nationally with 2.88 blocked shots per game. Junior guard Rapheal Davis (10.9 ppg) is also averaging double figures in terms of scoring, while players like senior guard Jon Octeus (9.3 ppg), sophomore guard Kendall Stephens (8.8 ppg) and freshman forward Vince Edwards (8.6 ppg) are just under that mark.
Cincinnati is a team that is fueled by its strong defensive play. The Bearcats are one of the better teams in the nation at that end of the floor, holding opponents to just 55.3 ppg (sixth nationally) and .390 shooting. The team also holds a +5.0 rebounding margin and is forcing just under 13 turnovers per game. UC averages just 62.4 ppg, but does so on a decent .453 shooting.
There aren't any prolific scoring options on the Cincinnati roster. Junior forward Octavius Ellis leads the Bearcats in the scoring column at a subdued 10.0 ppg on .578 shooting, but plays a much bigger role defensively, also leading the team in rebounding (7.3 rpg) and blocked shots (66). Sophomore guard Troy Caupain (9.5 ppg), junior guard Farad Cobb (8.5 ppg) and freshman forward Gary Clark (7.9 ppg) provided limited scoring depth.