Busting Brackets

NCAA Tournament 2024: 3 takeaways from Purdue's Final Four victory over Purdue

Purdue led the entire game over NC State but it took longer than expected for them to push the Wolfpack away.
NC State v Purdue
NC State v Purdue / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

Purdue led the entire game over NC State but it took longer than expected for them to push the Wolfpack away.

Entering this NCAA Tournament Final Four matchup, NC State was always going to be the underdog against 1-seed Purdue. But the Wolfpack put up a good fight, staying within a couple of possessions for most of the first 30 minutes of the game.

But eventually, the Boilermakers were just too much to overcome for the 11-seed ACC team. They won 63-50 to clinch their spot in the national title game. Here are some takeaways from the game.

1. DJ Burns was no match for Zach Edey

There was no more anticipated player matchup in the Final Four than 2-time National Player of the Year center Zach Edey taking on DJ Burns, the NC State big who became the new star of the NCAA Tournament. If the Wolfpack were going to have any shot at pulling off the upset, they needed Burns to find a way to neutralize him.

That ultimately didn't happen. Edey had 20 points, 12 rebounds, and four assists in the win. Burns, had just eight points on 4/10 shooting and just one total rebound. He did his best to make sure Edey didn't go off and the help-defense from NC State was solid. But like with every other matchup inside, Edey was the clear individual victor.

2. Purdue survives an awful game from Braden Smith

Smith was an All-Big Ten player this season and second on the team in scoring. But points were not something he could contribute, as the sophomore was scoreless for the first 36 minutes of the game and ended up 1/9 from the field. He did have eight rebounds and six assists but also five first-half turnovers to keep NC State in the game.

If he has a similar kind of game in the championship against either Alabama or UConn, Purdue might not be so lucky.

3. Lance Jones remains the x-factor for Purdue

The starting backcourt for Purdue (Smith and Fletcher Loyer) combined for 14 points on 4/18 shooting. The other starter, Lance Jones, had 14 points, including 4/9 from deep. Some of his shots were true daggers for NC State, preventing them from getting too close to the upset bid.

Next. Potential options for USC transfer Bronny James. Potential options for USC transfer Bronny James. dark

Lance Jones was the newcomer to the team who has had his moments in big games. The question now is can he deliver for the Boilermakers one more time on Monday? If he does, both Jones and Purdue can get their first national title.