It's important to understand that St. Mary's was a quality opponent. To me, that point was driven home by how well Gonzaga played Ohio State. St. Mary's was the regular season and tournament champion of Gonzaga's league.
Of course, let's be reasonable a 10 seed isn't going to have an easy journey. Kansas, Purdue's next opponent, like usual is a legitimate title contender. I've been slightly amused by how many people have stated in the media that this game is a bad matchup for the Boilermakers. I would surmise that's usually the case when you take a look at the team's records.
In fairness, though, what is being emphasized is the huge difference in post presence between the two teams. Kansas is a huge team physically, and not only big, but talented as well.
Kansas also has a huge advantage with basically a home court advantage, as most of the 17 thousand people on hand will wear Jayhawk red and blue. Only Kentucky, in my opinion, has a better fan following in all of college basketball.
So, why play the game? In sports you never know and we've seen this already in the tournament. Let's be honest, you can dream up some upsets, but Duke and Missouri going out to Lehigh and Norfolk State?
Here's what I'm confident of - Purdue won't be intimidated by the atmosphere or the Kansas name. When you play in the best conference in the country, you are prepared for games like this. Secondly, away from home, Purdue is a game over .500, so they have consistently shown they can handle this environment.
I like the fact that we have several veteran players who have been here before. Games against people like Connecticut and Duke in previous seasons prepare you for a contest like this.
If I was to compare Kansas to any of our conference opponents, Michigan State and Ohio State come to mind. I realize we went 0-4 against those guys, but we did play well in stretches, especially in Columbus. Let's not forget, we did have some unusual circumstances facing us in both games with MSU.
Perhaps a lot of good things will have to happen for Purdue to have a chance in this evening's game, but you never know. If you would have told me St. Mary's was going to go 4-25 from outside the three-point line and only lose by three before the game, I would have taken that bet all day long.
I've seen too many games in my lifetime to say there is no chance. I do know we could be saying goodbye to three pretty special guys in Rob Hummel, Lewis Jackson and Ryne Smith. Here's hoping they live another day to play in Boilermaker Gold and Black. If not, thanks for the ride.