The PK 85 Legacy bracket is filled with a number of contenders, including Purdue and West Virginia. Who will advance to the semifinals?
TV schedule: Thursday, November 24th, 10:00 pm ET (approx) ESPN@
Arena: Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Oregon
The Phil Knight Tournament is arguably the biggest tournament in all of “Feast Week”, with a number of top-25 programs taking part. It’s divided into two brackets, which feature top-10 teams, Duke and Gonzaga. The Bulldogs take on Portland State and almost certainly advance and will take on the winner of this following matchup in the semifinals.
Coming into the season, it was clear that Zach Edey would be the star of Purdue (3-0). In three games, the 7’4 center is averaging 20.7 ppg and 13.7 rpg. The question was whether the supporting cast would be good enough to make them a good team overall. So far, they’ve gotten contributions from the rest of the rotation, with freshmen guards, Flecther Loyer and Braden Smith, each averaging just over double-figures in scoring.
The Boilermakers past their first true test of the season with a 75-70 win over Marquette, but now comes multiple big tests this week. Their quarterfinal opponent is another team that had questions in West Virginia (4-0), who went through a complete roster makeover this offseason.
Washington transfer Erik Stevenson leads the way with 14.0 ppg, while former Texas forward Tre Mitchell has recovered from a preseason injury and is a double-digit producer as well. Guards Joe Toussaint and Kedrian Johnson have stabilized the backcourt, while Emmitt Matthews has made a successful return to the Mountaineers after transferring out before.
West Virginia passed its power conference test with a 28-point road win at Pittsburgh but Edey and Purdue will definitely be a larger task. As with most contests involving the Boilermakers, it’ll all come down to how the opposing team deals with the star big man. But the Mountaineers do have frontcourt depth to throw at him, including JUCO transfers, Jimmy Bell and Mohamed Wague, as well as sophomore bench player, James Okonkwo.
It’s also going to be important to see how the freshman Purdue guards deal with the constant pressure of West Virginia. If they struggle to get the ball to Edey on Thursday night, it could be a long game for them.
I do believe that Edey will get his in this matchup but I’m not sure about the rest of the roster. And with the Mountaineers’ improved shooting from outside, I have them moving on in a close matchup.
Prediction: West Virginia 71, Purdue 66