The Charleston Classic wraps up today as the Purdue Boilermakers host the Virginia Tech Hokies in the finals of the eight-team tournament. The event featured some of college basketball’s best mid-level programs with Wichita State, Alabama, Davidson, and of course, Virginia Tech and Purdue rounding out the stellar field. The third-place game features Wichita State squaring off against Alabama, but we will focus in on the final’s matchup between the Hokies and the Boilermakers.
Purdue cruised to the finals by beating Appalachian State and Davidson, and neither game was all that competitive as the Boilermakers won each game by more than twenty points. Carsen Edwards has been the star for Purdue as he is averaging more than twenty-six points a game in the tournament. For Virginia Tech, they had a little bit of trouble dispatching Ball State in the first round but then pounded Northeastern to earn their spot in the finals. Neil Alexander-Walker has led the Hokies in scoring as he has dropped at least twenty points in both games. The Boilermakers are small -1.5-point favorites. The game total over-under is set at 150.5 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 PM PST from the TD Arena in Charleston, South Carolina.
How good is Carsen Edwards right now? Edwards came into the season as one of the trendy picks for both Big 10 and national player of the year. And Edwards has certainly not disappointed through Purdue’s first four games as all this guy has done is score 27 points a game on 50% shooting from the field and 45% from deep. Edwards has also chipped in 3 rebounds and 3 assists a contest as well.
Purdue lost a lot of their big size from last season, but with Edwards leading the show this year, they have to be considered a threat to win thirty or more games as they did last year. The Big 10 is tough as always with Michigan and Michigan State both having stellar squads and Indiana, Iowa, and Maryland are all impressing in early season returns as well. But you have to keep your eye on this Purdue team as a team that can absolutely take home the Big 10 crown this year.
The Virginia Tech Hokies are in a similar position as Purdue as they are a very talented team playing in a loaded conference. The Hokies are talented enough to win a lot of leagues this season, but the ACC is head and shoulders above the rest of the country, so they could struggle to finish in the top half of the conference, even though they are ranked 16th nationally right now. Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida State, Clemson, and Syracuse are all ranked in the top twenty-five right now in this super conference.
Buzz Williams has brought his patented defensive style with him to Virginia Tech, and these Hokies sure do pressure the ball. Williams returns a lot of last year’s team that finished just seventh in the ACC but had some huge wins including wins over Clemson, Duke, Virginia, and North Carolina. This team doesn’t have the front-line talent of some of the other ACC teams, but they play hard and can beat any team in the league on a given night.
Man, I really love early season college basketball. Games like these ones are going to go a long way during selection time to proving which league is stronger. I think right now, at least on paper, the ACC is the best league in the land. But if Purdue can beat up on a Virginia Tech team that many expect to finish near the top of the league, it could show that the Big 10 is just as strong without all the star power the ACC brings to the table. Both of these teams should be competing for a top-four seed come March, and this is a resume-building win for whichever team gets the job done today.
To me, the difference in this one is Carsen Edwards. Edwards is just playing so well right now and won’t let his team down. The matchup between him and sophomore guard for Virginia Tech, Neil Alexander-Walker is going to be one to key in on, and Purdue has a major advantage. Throw in the fact that Virginia Tech has really struggled on the boards, they are 319th in the nation in rebounding right now, I see the Boilermakers getting a lot of decent shots, and plenty of second-chance points.
In the semifinals against Davidson, Purdue dominated the rebounding margin 45-28, including 18 offensive rebounds. In all four of the Boilermakers games, they have had double-digit offensive boards. If they can crash the glass against this tough Hokies defense like that tonight, they are going to win this game going away.
I love Buzz Williams, and this Hokies team is going to find ways to win games that they probably shouldn’t this year in the ACC. But I think in this game their deficiencies on the glass are going to burn them. Throw in the fact that I think Carsen Edwards takes Alexander-Walker behind the woodshed for 25 or more points as well, and I see the Boilermakers getting the job done tonight. Give me the Purdue Boilermakers laying a point and a half tonight in the finals of the Charleston Classic!