NCAA Tournament Predictions: Purdue vs. Arkansas-Little Rock

Purdue center A.J. Hammons, right, get tied up with Michigan guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game during the semifinals of the Big Ten Conference tournament in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

It’s March Madness, the greatest time of the year. Looking for some help with your bracket? Don’t know which teams to believe in, in this crazy college hoops season? We’ve got your back. We’re breaking down every first-round game in the field of 68, plus looking ahead at which teams will make the run to the Final Four.

5. Purdue (26-8, 12-6/Big Ten)–Purdue could be a popular pick to make a run to the Sweet 16, as the Boilers enter the NCAA’s winners of five of six. They also advanced to the Big Ten championship game after pounding Michigan in the semifinals. This is an underrated team, with as much size up front as anyone in the nation, with two seven footers contributing big minutes. Seven-foot, 261-pound center A.J. Hammonds is a giant man inside, and he’s skilled too, leading the team in scoring at 14.9 points per game (also averages 8.9 rebounds per). 7-2 sophomore Isaac Haas also averages 9.9 points in 15 minutes per game.

6-7 sophomore forward Vince Edwards is a capable scorer (11 ppg), as is 6-9 freshman forward Caleb Swanigan (10.4 ppg, 8.2 rpg). This team looks impressive by the numbers. They rank in the top 25 nationally in points allowed, assists per game and rebounds per game. Defense and toughness are the hallmarks of this group.


64.5 points allowed (25th)

17.8 assists per game (5th)

41.2 rebounds per game (10th)

Arkansas Little-Rock's Josh Hagins (3) tries to get to the basket but is blocked by Florida center Patric Young during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)
Arkansas Little-Rock’s Josh Hagins (3) tries to get to the basket but is blocked by Florida center Patric Young during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)

12. Arkansas-Little Rock (29-4, 17-3/Sun Belt)–Only Kansas has a better winning percentage this season than the Little Rock Trojans, who scored upsets over San Diego State and Tulsa during the regular season and dominated the Sun Belt, winning both the regular season and tournament titles. This is a tough, grind-it-out defensive team, and the Trojans give up just 59.9 points per game, which ranks third in the country. Little Rock is undersized, which doesn’t bode well at all against Purdue. Only one regular player reaches 6-10 (Lis Shoshi), while Purdue has interchangeable seven-footers.

The Trojans are led by the terrific (if diminutive) backcourt combo of Marcus Johnson Jr. (5-11), and Josh Hagins (6-1). Hagins leads the team in scoring at 12.8 points per.


59.9 points allowed (3rd)

33.8 rebounds per game (T-268th)

PREDICTION: The size advantage for Purdue is probably going to be too much for Little Rock, though we don’t think the Boilers will blow the Trojans out. Both teams are tough and defense-oriented, so this game will probably be contested in the 60’s. Expect Purdue to advance, then give Iowa State a run for its money in the second round. We’ve got Purdue in the Sweet 16.

Other tournament games:

Which teams can beat No. 1 North Carolina?
8. USC vs. 9. Providence
5. Indiana vs. 12. Chattanooga
4. Kentucky vs. 13. Stony Brook
6. Notre Dame vs. 11. Michigan/Tulsa
3. West Virginia vs. 14. Stephen F. Austin
7. Wisconsin vs. 10. Pittsburgh
2. Xavier vs. 15 Weber State

Who can beat No. 1 Kansas?
8. Colorado vs. 9. UConn
5. Maryland vs. 12. South Dakota State
4. California vs. 13 Hawaii
6. Arizona vs. 11. Wichita State or Vanderbilt
3. Miami (FL) vs. 14. Buffalo
7. Iowa vs. 10. Temple
2. Villanova vs. 15. UNC Asheville

How far will No. 1 Virginia advance?
8. Texas Tech vs. 9. Butler
5. Purdue vs. 12. Arkansas-Little Rock
4. Iowa State vs. 13. Iona
6. Seton Hall vs. 11. Gonzaga
3. Utah vs. 14. Fresno State
7. Dayton vs. 10. Syracuse
2. Michigan State vs. 15. Middle Tennessee State

Is No. 1 Oregon really that good?
8. St. Joseph’s vs. 9. Cincinnati
5. Baylor vs. 12. Yale
4. Duke vs. 13. UNC-Wilmington
6. Texas vs. 11. Northern Iowa
3. Texas A&M vs. 14. Green Bay
7. Oregon State vs. 10. VCU
2. Oklahoma vs 15. Cal St. Bakersfield provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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