Busting Brackets

Purdue and Zach Edey, “still not celebrating” after beating NC State in the Final Four

After last season's NCAA Tournament disappointment, Purdue won't be satisfied until their redemption arc is complete on Monday night in the national championship game.
Purdue Boilermakers center Zach Edey (15)
Purdue Boilermakers center Zach Edey (15) / Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue is one win away from redemption. After knocking off NC State, 63-50 in the Final Four to claim a spot in the National Championship Game on Monday, Matt Painter’s Boilermakers are still focused on the ultimate prize. 

“We still have a game to play. No one's celebrating right now. We're going to keep locked in and keep focusing on these games, get back to work,” Zach Edey said. 

During the week, Edey was named the National Player of the Year for the second consecutive year, the first player to claim the award in back-to-back season since Ralph Sampson in 1981, 1982, and 1983. 

One way or the other, Edey’s legendary career will come to an end on Monday, but a win would cement his spot in history as one of the greatest college basketball players ever. Yet, he and the rest of his team are not letting those ideas seep into their heads. 

Last season, when Purdue’s young guards, Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer struggled in the NCAA Tournament, the Boilermakers were upset by 16-seed Farleigh Dickinson. This year when Smith turned the ball over five times in the first half and started the game 0-6 from the field, Purdue led wire to wire. 

One of Purdue’s new additions for this season, Lance Jones summed up the victory. “Every win is not going to be nice and pretty. This one happened to be grind it out. We stuck with it. They made runs. We had bad periods. Most important we stayed with it and got necessary stops down the stretch.”

Despite his struggles, Painter still has belief in his point guard. “He's a quintessential point guard, runs the show for us. Just trying to get him in good spirits. Hey, go out and play your game. When we run stuff, just be aggressive, look for your shot, keep shooting,” Painter said. 

Purdue took after NC State’s 1983 team and Jim Valvano’s mantra, “survive and advance.” Though they aren’t satisfied yet. Painter’s team has been taking this journey one game at a time because you can’t win a national championship if you aren’t playing in it. 

“Just getting a win without any of the particulars is worth it, right, to be able to advance. I always talk about that, trying to win a Big Ten championship. Everybody wants to talk about winning it. I said, Man, you got to get yourself in position before you can win one. It's like winning a national championship. You can talk all you want, but if you're not going to play on Monday, you don't have a chance. Obviously, we put ourselves in a position to win one. Got to give our guys credit. They've been able to battle back. They've also been able to handle a lot of adversity,” Painter said.

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