College Basketball Game of the Week: No. 6 Purdue vs. No. 18 North Carolina
The No. 6 Purdue Boilermakers are off to a hot start this campaign and will look to keep it going against the No. 18 North Carolina Tar Heels in the opening round of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament this Saturday.
The two-day tournament played at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, will feature these two powerhouses as well as No. 5 Villanova and No. 17 Tennessee with the winners of both games meeting in the championship on Sunday.
Purdue (2-0) comes into the contest leaning on the play of sophomore guard Jaden Ivey. The South Bend, Indiana, native is averaging 19 points per game and has been an offensive force just two games into the year.
The Boilermakers are also getting solid production from sophomore center Zach Edey, who has racked up 19 points and 9.5 rebounds per game this year. The 7-foot-4-inch center from Toronto, Ontario, (along with Ivey) is one of four players averaging double-digit points for Purdue.
Purdue’s easy start to the season ends with this matchup with the Tar Heels.
North Carolina (2-0) also has four scorers averaging 10 or more points per game, and the Tar Heels are a physical team inside.
Senior forward Brady Manek is averaging 17 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in his first season with UNC. After coming over from the Oklahoma Sooners, Manek has been a solid force inside for the Tar Heels early on this year.
Manek slides into the lineup with junior forward Armando Bacot, who is continuing to improve with the Tar Heels. The 6-foot-10-inch forward is posting highs in points, blocks and steals with 15, two and one respectively, while also averaging a career-low 0.5 turnovers per game.
Sophomore guard Caleb Love comes into this contest as the leading scorer for the Tar Heels. The 6-foot-4-inch guard is averaging 17 points per game and just 0.5 turnovers per game.
This matchup features both exciting guard play and big men battles around the rim, so both teams will need to fight and scrap for the advantage in both the frontcourt and backcourt.
A win in this contest will be an impressive resume builder early for both squads, as UNC will have its work cut out for itself in the ACC, and Purdue will have to navigate the loaded Big Ten, which was especially tough last year.
Coming to the contest, Purdue has the edge according to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, as ESPN gives the Boilermakers a 65.4% chance to win the game.
All-time, North Carolina has dominated Purdue. Since the 1949-1950 season, UNC has won eight of the 10 contests between these two squads. However, despite Purdue’s abysmal record against the Tar Heels, the Boilermakers are being outscored by an average of just 5.5 points over this span.
Both squads have the talent to compete at an elite level, and this matchup will help shed some light on which squad could be primed for more success come March.
Eric Fenstermaker is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalist
Eric Fenstermaker is a senior from Northampton, Pennsylvania, majoring in broadcast journalism. He is also minoring in business and sports studies and pursuing a certificate in sports journalism.
Eric is involved in After the Whistle and Penn State Sports Night (PSSN). For COMM Radio, Eric contributes to a variety of different podcasts and co-hosts the Hail Mary radio show, which is dedicated to analyzing NFL games.