INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Purdue gets to play basketball inside the cavernous Lucas Oil Stadium for the second straight weekend, but Boilermakers coach Matt Painter isn't sure it really makes a difference playing in those wide open spaces.
"I'll tell you about 10 o'clock on Friday night,'' he said with a smile when he met with the media earlier this week.
The Boilermakers, the No. 4 seed in the South Region, will play No. 13 North Texas on Friday night at 7:25 p.m. ET at Lucas Oil Stadium, the same place where they played the Big Ten Tournament. It's the first time the Boilers have played in a football stadium in the NCAAs since 2010, so last week's primer should help.
This is Purdue's sixth straight NCAA Tournament appearance. This is Painter's 13th NCAA Tournament and he is 10-2 in first-round games. Here's everything you need to know about Purdue's game with Ohio State on Friday:
- Who: No. 13-seed North Texas Mean Green (17-9, 9-5 in Conference USA) at No. 4-seed Purdue Boilermakers (18-9, 12-6 in the Big Ten).
- When: 7:25 p.m. ET, Friday, March 19.
- Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind.
- Latest Line: Ohio State Purdue is a 7-point favorite according to the DraftKings.com website as of 4 p.m. on Friday. The over/under was 124.5.
- Poll rankings: Purdue checks in at No. 20 in the Associated Press and Coaches polls this week. North Texas is not ranked
- Kenpom.com rankings: Purdue is No. 15 in the Kenpom.com rankings. North Texas is No. 74.
- Last time out:. Purdue lost to Ohio State 87-78 in overtime in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament last Friday in Indianapolis. The Boilers were behind by double-digits early, but rallied to force overtime. North Texas beat Western Kentucky 61-57 in overtime to win the Conference USA title last week
- Last meeting: The two teams have met just once, with Purdue winning 90-73 on Dec. 10, 1970.
- TV: TNT
- Announcers: Tom McCarthy (play-by-play), Avery Johnson (color commentary) and A.J. Ross (sideline)
- Radio: Purdue Radio Network
- Announcers: Rob Blackmon and Bobby Riddell (and Clis in spirit)
- National Radio: Westwood One, Sirius/XM Channel 85
- Announcers: Jason Benetti (play-by-play) and Robbie Hummel (color commentary).
Here are three things to look out for on Friday against North Texas:
1. Be patient on offense
Matt Painter has been impressed with coach Grant McCasland and his North Texas team, especially in the way they won the Conference USA tournament to punch their ticket to the Big Dance. On offense, you have to have plenty of patience in attacking and probing their defense.
"His teams have discipline and they're consistent," Painter said. "They just do a good job getting to the basketball and making it hard for you to do what you want to do. They limit your paint touches. They're grimy. I've always been a big fan of his.
"You just have to be able to probe the defense and work it. Against great defensive teams, you're going to have to earn your baskets, and that's what we're going to have to do against North Texas."
2. Adjust quickly to a new style
After three months of battles against Big Ten teams that they know well, North Texas is going to give Purdue a completely different look on Friday night. Purdue has to figure things out quickly, and not fall into an early hole.
"The way their league plays and the way our league plays, it's different," Painter said. "I think that can help us, but I also think that can hurt us. Sometimes different can really help you, because now you're the team that's different to them. But when it gets flipped on you, you can have issues with those things, too."
North Texas can spread you out and the Mean Green have multiple three-point shooters. Purdue has struggled at times in covering the perimeter and making poor decisions on screens and jump-outs on perimeter shooters. They'll need to be on their game Friday night.
3. Handle late-game pressure
North Texas is a solid defensive team and they play at a slow pace, so there's a pretty good chance that this will be a close game late. With several freshman in the lineup for Purdue, the youngsters will need to play calm and hit some big shots when it matters the most.
Purdue has only four players who have played in an NCAA Tournament game, juniors Sasha Stefanovic, Eric Hunter Jr., Trevion Williams and Aaron Wheeler. Those veterans need to come through, and be good leaders.
Hunter is Purdue's best defender, and he'll likely get the call to cover Javion Hamlet, a 6-foot-4 senior guard from Memphis, Tenn., who is their leading scorer and averages 15.0 points per game. He's scored 18 or more points in nine different games. Down the stretch, Hunter will have to shut him down.
“We’ve had to grind out games,” Painter said. “We’ve had to grind it and guard people and do things and (Hunter) has been the leader of that. That’s how we’ve won games.
“We’ve had a couple of games where we shot the ball well, we executed or we’ve had some timely buckets but for the most part, we’ve been pretty resilient. We’ve played pretty hard and Eric has led our charge from a defensive standpoint.”