Painter's group faces stiff challenge

Painter's group faces stiff challenge

The defending national champion faced little resistance in its season opener Friday. That’s bound to change in several hours.

Fourth-ranked Villanova visits No. 15 Purdue this evening, with a 7 p.m. ET tip at Mackey Arena. Online sports book gives Jay Wright’s squad odds of -135 to triumph. Conversely, the Boilermakers represent +115 underdogs.

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Kris Jenkins, whose 3-pointer beat North Carolina in the 2016 title tilt, also helped power the Wildcats past Lafayette three nights ago. The senior scored 16 points in the 88-48 victory, with preseason All-American Josh Hart adding 13. Meanwhile, sixth man Mikal Bridges hauled down a team-high eight rebounds.

Such stellar interior production seems like an absolute requirement against Matt Painter’s troops. Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas combined for 45 points and 26 boards in Purdue’s first contest. Perimeter standout Vince Edwards posted a double-double in that 109-65 shellacking of McNeese State, too.

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Nova has captured the only two previous meetings with the Boilermakers. Another sobering tidbit for the people of Indiana: Purdue holds a 0-5 all-time record vs. Top 5 non-Big 10 opponents in West Lafayette. Bank on the Big East here.



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