West Regional Today's championship game No. 6 Purdue...

March 25, 2000|By Don Markus

West Regional

Today's championship game

No. 6 Purdue (24-9) vs. No. 8 Wisconsin (21-13)

Site: Albuquerque, N.M.

Time: 4: 40 p.m.

TV: Chs. 13, 9

Line: Purdue by 1

Conference records: Purdue finished third in the Big Ten with a 12-4 record. Wisconsin finished sixth in the Big Ten with an 8-8 record.

Coaches: Gene Keady is 439-190 in 20 seasons at Purdue, 477-209 in 22 seasons overall. Dick Bennett is 110-80 in five seasons at Wisconsin, 470-259 in 24 seasons overall.

Starting lineups: Purdue: PG Carson Cunningham (10.9 ppg, 4.2 apg); G Jaaran Cornell (12.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg); F Brian Cardinal (14.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg); F Mike Robinson (11.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg); C Greg McQuay (8.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg). Wisconsin: PG Mike Kelley (5.1 ppg, 3.1 apg); G Jon Bryant (8.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg); F Andy Kowske (9.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg); F Maurice Linton (5.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg); F Mark Vershaw (12.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.3 apg)

Bench strength: The Boilermakers went deep into their bench against Gonzaga in Thursday's 75-66 victory, with three reserves playing more than 10 minutes and Rodney Smith contributing five points and six rebounds. The Badgers weren't that deep, but they got 19 points and eight rebounds from the bench in a 61-48 win over LSU. Smith had 18 points and 10 rebounds in three games against Wisconsin this season. Roy Boone scored 10 points and pulled down eight rebounds against Purdue this year.

Key matchup: It will likely come down to whether the Badgers can contain Cardinal inside. In Purdue's 72-52 win in West Lafayette on Jan. 15, Cardinal had 26 points on 9-for-17 shooting. In Wisconsin's two wins over the Boilermakers, Cardinal shot a combined 8-for-25. Another key matchup will be between guards Kelley and Cornell, who admittedly has been thrown off his game against Wisconsin.

What Purdue needs to do to win: The Boilermakers have to keep hitting the boards, especially on the offensive end. They have out-rebounded the Badgers in every game this year, though a 39-26 edge in their Big Ten tournament meeting didn't help that much. They also have to shoot better from three-point range. In their lone victory over Wisconsin, the Boilermakers were 10-for-18. In the two losses, they were 10-for-37.

What Wisconsin needs to do to win: The Badgers led the Big Ten in scoring defense at 55.5 points a game, putting them fourth nationally. So far in this year's NCAA tournament, they have limited the opposition to 54 points a game. While Wisconsin beat Purdue, 78-66, in the Big Ten tournament -- a virtual shootout for the Badgers -- look for Bennett to try to keep the score in the 50s today.

Bottom line: It will be a heartwarming story either way when it comes to the two coaches. Both are well-respected coaches who've paid their dues and a trip to the Final Four would be the culmination of long, successful but mostly overshadowed careers. A victory would give the Boilermakers a tremendous home-court advantage in Indianapolis, meaning Purdue might have a little more pressure than Wisconsin.

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