Despite being the nation’s whipping boy, the Purdue Boilermakers survived the first round and lock horns with the Texas A&M Aggies on Sunday with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line. The Boilermakers stumbled down the stretch in the regular season and were hammered by Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. Purdue’s struggles began after their second-leading scorer Robbie Hummel was lost for the season due to a knee injury. The absence of Hummel had many bracket makers, including President Barack Obama, expecting the Boilermakers to go down in the Sportsbook round.
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Instead Purdue lived up to their No. 4 seed by defeating No. 13 Siena 72-64 as a 4.5-point favorite at Sportsbook. It was a slow start for Purdue and they actually trailed Siena 32-29 at the half. They quickly erased that deficit by storming out of the break with 13 straight points on the way to the victory. JaJuan Johnson made up for Hummel’s absence with 23 points and 15 rebounds, while E’Twaun Moore pitched in with 12 points and six boards. Keaton Grant, who has taken Hummel’s place in the starting five, had a solid game with 11 points. The Boilermakers may have proven they can win without Hummel in the Sportsbook round, but the oddsmakers don’t appear to be completely convinced. Purdue is a 1.5-point underdog to the lower-seeded Texas A&M Aggies in Sunday’s matchup. The Aggies are the No. 5 seed in the South region and collided with No. 12 Utah State in the Sportsbook round as a 3-point favorite. Texas A&M easily covered the small spread in a 69-53 win.
The win was really never in doubt for the Aggies, as they led 42-29 at halftime and never allowed Utah State to gain much momentum to launch a comeback. Freshman Khris Middleton didn’t show any jitters in his tourney debut with a career-high 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting, which including going 5-of-6 from three-point range. David Loubeau delivered 14 points and six rebounds for Texas A&M, and B.J. Holmes also poured in 14 points. With a win on Sunday the Boilermakers can reach the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row. Last season as a No. 5 seed Purdue ran into Connecticut in the Sweet 16, and ended up losing 72-60 as a 7-point underdog. The Aggies are playing in the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight year. Their best finish during that run was a berth in the Sweet 16 in 2007.
Texas A&M has never made it beyond the Sweet 16, but they could get the chance this year if they can first knock off Purdue. Looking for winning Madness picks from REAL experts? Sportsbook