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Yale opens NCAA Tournament with tough opposition in Purdue

After swiping the Ivy League crown from Princeton, the Bulldogs are in for a tough Round of 64 matchup against the Boilermakers

NCAA Basketball: Milwaukee at Yale
As Yale’s leading scorer, Swain averaged 19.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, and 1.6 APG on the season.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Where to Watch

Location: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee

Tip Time: 2 p.m. EST

Television/Streaming: TBS/March Madness Live

DraftKings Line: Purdue -16.5, O/U 144.5

Bulldogs Preview

With just three losses in conference play, Yale earned the No. 2 seed in this season’s Ivy League Tournament and advanced to the finals, where it defeated Princeton in a tight 66-64 battle to book the program’s sixth NCAA Tournament appearance.

Yale is led by the Ivy League’s second leading scorer Azar Swain, who averaged 19.2 PPG. He managing 23 points and six rebounds in the win over Princeton and looks to be the key to any success that the Bulldogs will find.

Jalen Gabbidon, a 2022 Second Team All-Ivy League selection and the 2020 Ivy Defensive Player of the Year, will need to find his rhythm offensively and get in the passing lanes defensively if the Bulldogs are to create chaos for Purdue and ultimately limit the damage from the Boilermaker big men. Averaging 11.6 PPG and 3.6 RPG, Gabbidon has put together some big performances for Yale this season and will need to bring the energy on both sides of the ball to give the Bulldogs a fighting chance.

Along with Gabbidon, this is a Yale group that’s a very defensive-minded team as it features two players in the Ivy League’s top-10 for total steals and four players in the top-15 for total blocked shots. That means the Bulldogs are scrappy on defense but will still probably struggle with the height of Purdue players like Zach Edey and Trevion Williams as Yale just generally lacks size.

To have a chance against this Big Ten opponent, the Bulldogs will need to push the pace offensively and find consistent scoring from Swain and Gabbidon. It will need to capitalize on a Purdue defensive that’s been very poor as of late. This Yale roster is built to drive and draw fouls where it hit the most free throws in the Ivy League this season. If Purdue’s inside players get into foul trouble early and Yale can hit those free throws, the Bulldogs will have a real opportunity to fight for a spot in the Round of 32.

Predictions

Despite possessing possibly the Ivy League’s best defense, the Bulldogs are really going to struggle with the size and speed of Purdue coming out of a power conference in the Big Ten. With that, this isn’t a Yale team that shoots the ball particularly well either (outside of Swain). The Bulldogs' best hope will be the continued defensive issues we saw from Purdue throughout the Big Ten Tournament. Ultimately, though, the Boilermakers will prevail. They pose a tough matchup for Yale just about everywhere on the floor and have a roster that will really hinder what the Bulldogs game plan does best.