No. 8 seed Utah State (28-6) vs. No. 1 seed Purdue (30-4)

Tip: 12:40 p.m. MDT.

Venue: Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

TV: CBS.

Streaming: Paramount+.

Radio: 97.5 FM/1280 AM.

Series: Purdue leads 1-0. The Boilermakers defeated the Aggies 85-64 on Nov. 22, 2016 at the Cancun Challenge.

The trends

For Utah State: Utah State advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s second round for the first time since 2001 on Friday by beating TCU. The game was close for most of the first half, but the Aggies pulled away in the second, ultimately winning by a comfortable 16-point margin, 88-72. Utah State will benefit from that confidence boost on Sunday, as well as the knowledge that it’s pulled off big upsets before. In 2001, the Aggies, then a No. 12 seed, beat No. 5 seed Ohio State.

For Purdue: No. 1 seed Purdue had no problem dispatching No. 16 seed Grambling State on Friday. The Boilermakers won by 28 points, 78-50, capitalizing on a characteristically great performance from star center Zach Edey. He had 30 points and 21 rebounds in the contest.

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Quotable

“They have a National Player of the Year in Zach Edey, but the problem is that they have so many talented players around him that shoot it and drive it, and they’re probably one of the best-coached teams in the country; everybody around here knows that,” Utah State coach Danny Sprinkle said Saturday.

“They’re a really, really good basketball team that’s well-coached,” said Purdue coach Matt Painter Saturday. “It’s going to be a dog fight. We’ve had a lot of experience here and we’ve had some disappointing days, and there’s no way we are looking past these guys. These guys are real.”

The stakes

For Utah State: The Aggies are a major underdog in Sunday’s game, so they can earn some major respect with an unexpected win. A win would also enable them to make it past the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1970.

For Purdue: The Boilermakers are still working to make college basketball fans forget about their infamous loss to No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament. Friday’s win certainly helped, but exiting in the second round of this year’s tournament would open the old wound.

Purdue center Zach Edey (15) dunks the ball over Grambling State guard Jourdan Smith in the second half of a first-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Friday, March 22, 2024, in Indianapolis. | Michael Conroy

Players to watch

For Utah State: The “Big Fish,” Isaac Johnson, was the breakout star in Friday’s Utah State-TCU game, scoring a career-high 19 points. But Sunday’s game against Purdue will be tough swimming. Johnson and the rest of the Aggies will have their hands full containing Zach Edey.

For Purdue: No surprise here. It’s Edey. The 2023 National Player of the Year is averaging 24.6 points — that’s the best per game average in college basketball this season — and 12 rebounds per game for Purdue.