NCAA Men’s Championship Game Tonight, #1 Purdue against defending champion #1 UConn at 9:20 PM

By Bert Leeson





[1 – MW] Purdue (34-4) vs. [1 – E] Connecticut (36-3)

Monday, April 8, 2024
9:20 p.m. ET | 6:20 p.m. PT
Glendale, Arizona | State Farm Stadium (75,000)
TELEVISION: TBS, TNT, TruTV (Ian Eagle, Bill Raftery, Grant Hill, Tracy Wolfson)
NATIONAL RADIO: Westwood One (Kevin Kugler, Clark Kellogg, Jim Jackson)
PURDUE RADIO: Purdue Global Radio Network (Rob Blackman, Bobby Riddell)

• The No. 3-ranked Purdue Boilermakers aim for their first National Championship when it battles No. 1-ranked and East Region championship Connecticut in college basketball’s final game of the season on Monday night.
• The two teams have the most wins in America, as UConn has 36 wins, while Purdue is next with a school-record 34 victories. The two teams have both ranked in the top five all season long as Purdue has been ranked in the AP top five in 36 straight weeks and UConn in 19 straight.
• After reaching its first Final Four in 44 years (1980), Purdue will now play in its first National Championship game since 1969. In that game, Lew Alcindor and the UCLA Bruins topped Rick Mount and the Boilermakers. Alcindor had 37 points while Mount had 28 in the loss.
• Head coach Matt Painter is 0-1 against Connecticut, falling in the 2009 Sweet 16, 72-60. The game, coincidentally, was also played in the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Boilermakers are 4-1 all-time against the Huskies, winning games in Dec. 1938, Dec. 1986, Dec. 1988, and Nov. 1992. Matt Painter played against the Huskies in that 1992 contest — a 73-69 win in Springfield, Massachusetts.
• UConn (+125) and Purdue (+98) have combined to outscore their opponents by 223 points in the NCAA Tournament. It’s the largest highest combined scoring margin by two finalists in NCAA Tournament history.
• Monday’s meeting marks the first 1 seed vs. 1 seed matchup in the NCAA Championship since 2021 (Baylor vs. Gonzaga). It’s first 1 seed vs. 1 seed that wasn’t in a CoVid season since 2017 (Gonzaga vs. North Carolina).
• With the win over Tennessee in the Elite Eight, Purdue improved to 10-0 this season against nationally-ranked teams. The Boilermakers are the second team in the last 15 years to play at least 10 games against nationally-ranked teams without a loss (2012 Kentucky; 10-0).
• Zach Edey became the first player since UCLA’s Marques Johnson in 1976 to have at least 20 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks in the Final Four.
• Zach Edey is the third player to have at least 140 points and 70 rebounds in one tournament, joining Jerry West and Elvin Hayes on the list. He has 140 points and 77 rebounds. If you add at least 10 assists and 8 blocks to the list, Edey is the only one with 140 points, 70 rebounds, 10 assists and 8 blocked shots in a single NCAA Tournament.
• Zach Edey is the first player in NCAA Tournament history to have six straight games of 20 points and 10 rebounds in the NCAA Tournament. David Robinson is next on the list with five straight games.
• The Boilermakers are the Big Ten’s first representative in the National Championship game since 2018 (Michigan; lost to Villanova).
• Purdue has won 22 straight non-conference, regular-season and postseason games against power-conference OR nationally-ranked teams. It equals the second-longest streak in NCAA history, matching the record of 22 straight wins by UCLA from 1971 to 1974 in the same category. A win over UConn would give Purdue 23 straight wins against power-conference or nationally-ranked teams outside of the Big Ten. Purdue’s last loss against a power-conference or ranked team not in the Big Ten was Dec. 8, 2020, vs. Miami, Fla. (58-54).
• Purdue is looking for its second win over a top-ranked team this season, when it faces UConn. The Boilermakers beat No. 1-ranked Arizona, 92-84, on Dec. 16 in Indianapolis. Purdue is 3-19 all-time against the nation’s No. 1-ranked team.
• Purdue is 19-5 (.783) against nationally-ranked teams since the start of the 2021-22 season, easily the best record in America (Arizona; 14-7).
• Zach Edey ranks third in points (2,459) and rebounds (1,299) in Big Ten history and needs just six rebounds to move into second place, tying Minnesota’s Jordan Murphy (1,305; 2016-19).
• Braden Smith is the second player in NCAA history with at least 450 points, 275 assists and 200 rebounds in a season (BYU’s Kyle Collinsworth – 2016).
• Braden Smith has moved into second place on the Big Ten’s single-season assists list with 284 (Cassius Winston – 291), needing eight assists to break the record for most assists by a player in Big Ten history.
• Zach Edey is the first player to lead the country in scoring and reach a Final Four since Oscar Robertson in 1960.
• Zach Edey recorded his 68th career double-doubles are the most for a Big Ten player since Ohio State’s Jerry Lucas (1960-62; 78). His 29 double-doubles this season are the most in a season in Big Ten history.
• Zach Edey’s 946 points this season is second in Purdue history and fourth in Big Ten history. Dennis Hopson (1987) is second in Big Ten history with 958 points, while Glen Rice (1989) is third with 949 points.
• Zach Edey moved into second place on the Big Ten’s career rebounds list with 1,311 rebounds. He needs four points to become the fifth player in NCAA history with 950 points and 450 rebounds in a season (Larry Bird, Elvin Hayes, Rick Barry, Oscar Robertson).
• Zach Edey needs 21 points to become the seventh player in NCAA history with 2,500 career points and 1,300 rebounds.
• Zach Edey leads the country in total points and total rebounds, while Braden Smith leads the country in total assists. Since 1980, Purdue is the only team in NCAA history to have a player lead the team in points and assists (and rebounds).
• The Boilermakers rank second nationally in rebound margin (behind Saint Mary’s) at +11.6. Purdue led the country a year ago (+10.8).
• Purdue is 27-0 when it has 13 or fewer turnovers on the season. The Boilermakers are 7-4 when they have 14 or more turnovers.
• Purdue has trailed by 10 or more points in six games this year. The Boilermakers are 4-2 in those games with wins over Alabama, Minnesota, Illinois and Tennessee. The losses are to Nebraska and Ohio State.
• Purdue is 40-1 (Nebraska; Jan. 2024) in its last 41 games when making 10 or more 3-pointers. Purdue made 11 in the win over Utah State.
• Zach Edey ranks fourth on the NCAA’s all-time free throw attempts list with 426. The NCAA record for free throws attempted are 440 by Furman’s Frank Selvy in 1953-54. Edey’s 426 free throw attempts are the most for a player since 1970 (Pete Maravich – 436).
• Lance Jones’ 80, 3-pointers this season are tied for the 12th most in a season in Purdue history






GLENDALE, Ariz. – The two teams on an inevitable collision course this season will finally collide on Monday night with a National Championship on the line. The top overall seed UConn men’s basketball team (36-3) takes on one-seed Purdue (34-4) in the title game with tip set for 9:20 ET at State Farm Stadium. The contest will air on TBS, TNT and truTV with Ian Eagle, Bill Raftery, Grant Hill and Tracy Wolfson on the call.

UConn and Purdue have been atop the national polls and analytics all season. It will mark the 10th time in NCAA Tournament history that two 1-seeds will meet for the championship and fourth time since 2015. UConn has been part of a 1 vs. 1 national title game one other time – when it defeated Duke in 1999 to claim its first championship.

The Huskies are looking to enter rarified air on Monday night. They have a chance to become the first back-to-back champions since Florida in 2006-07 and only the third back-to-back champs since 1965. A national title would be UConn’s sixth in program history – meaning only two programs would have more all-time.

Connecticut advanced to the title game with an 86-72 win over Alabama on Saturday night, seeing all five starters score in double-figures including a team-high 21 points from freshman Stephon Castle in his Final Four debut. Connecticut recorded 20 assists against only four turnovers in the win and held a potent Alabama offense to 40.0 percent shooting in the second half to overcome 11 made 3-pointers by the Crimson Tide.

UConn’s balanced scoring has been a theme all season long, as five players average double-figures for the Kenpom No. 1 rated offense. First Team All-American Tristen Newton leads the Huskies with 14.9 points per game and grabs 6.6 rebounds along with 6.2 assists per game. Cam Spencer is second on the squad with 14.4 points per game and shoots 44.3 percent from 3-point range, ranking top-10 in the nation from distance.

In the frontcourt, Alex Karaban scores 13.5 points with 5.0 rebounds per game while Donovan Clingan adds 13.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.5. blocks per game. Clingan was named the Most Outstanding Player of the East Regional after averaging a double-double through UConn’s four-game run in Brookyln and Boston. Castle is the fifth Husky in double-figures with 11.0 points per game, stuffing the stat sheet with 4.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists a night.

Purdue has advanced to the title game after winning the Midwest Regional and rolling past NC State on Saturday night in the Final Four. The Boilermakers are led by two-time National Player of the Year Zach Edey, who scores 24.9 points with 12.2 rebounds per game. Braden Smith adds 12.0 points per contest and Lance Jones chips in 11.9 a game. Purdue ranks top-12 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, per Kenpom.

The Huskies are 1-4 all-time against Purdue, but 1-0 against the Boilermakers in NCAA Tournament play. UConn is looking to improve on its 11-1 record in the Final Four – the best mark in tournament history.