West Virginia and No. 24 Purdue will match up in the first round of the Phil Knight Legacy bracket on Thursday night. Let’s take a look at five things to know before the Thanksgiving showdown in Portland.
First Chance for WVU to Showcase New Team
Everyone in West Virginia’s basketball program seems to have a chip on their shoulder this year. From Bob Huggins to his new additions, it seems like everyone has something to prove.
“We’re going to try to go out there in Portland for three games and come back hopefully top five in the country,” WVU G Erik Stevenson said last Friday.
Huggins and his staff used the transfer portal to their advantage for the first time this offseason, bringing in guys that can immediate impact the team: Stevenson, Emmitt Matthews, Tre Mitchell and Joe Toussaint.
Still though, WVU has not received much respect amongst the national media. Rightfully so, they haven’t beat anyone notable. Stevenson can speak for the whole team and say that they haven’t had a true challenge yet. How will West Virginia respond when they get punched in the mouth?
“You know we haven’t been punched in the mouth at all. We haven’t been knocked out. We’ve pretty much have been doing all of the hitting,” Stevenson said. “We’re going to play three really good opponents within the next week. Those teams are good and they’re going to go on runs. We’re going to have to sustain those runs and punch back on our own.”
7-foot-4 Zach Edey will Give Mountaineers Trouble…
Purdue center Zach Edey is one of the best players in the country. Edey stands in at 7-foot-4, but isn’t just a standing tree in the middle of the paint. Edey has great foot work for his size and knows how to use his size to give opponents trouble. If West Virginia can get Edey into foul trouble they’ll be in good shape. If not, they could have headaches on Thursday.
Edey averages 20.7 points, 13.7 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game on 65 percent shooting from the field.
Emmitt Matthews Just Five Points Away from 1,000
WVU F Emmitt Matthews is just five points away from his 1,000th career point. Matthews, whose first stint at West Virginia lasted from 2018-21, has scored 633 points in 96 games. During his lone season at Washington last year, the 6-foot-7 forward scored 362 points.
Through four games, Matthews is averaging 10.3 points and 3.5 rebounds. Matthews has posted a plus-minus of +96 in the first two weeks of his final season.
The spread for the West Virginia-Purdue game is -1.0 Purdue. The over/under is set at 137.5.
Where to Watch
West Virginia and Purdue will tip off at 10 p.m. est inside the Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Thursday. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN2.