HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Villanova lost four players off last season’s NCAA championship team to the NBA draft and the Wildcats still won the Big East.
Purdue had to replace four starters off a team that went 30-7 and reached the Sweet 16 last year and still won a share of the Big Ten championship.
Coach Jay Wright’s Wildcats (26-9) and Matt Painter’s Boilermakers (24-9) have become two of the steadiest and most successful programs in the country, excelling even while rebuilding. On Saturday, they’ll meet for first time in the NCAA Tournament, with a trip to the South Regional in Louisville next week on the line.
“It’s amazing, it really is,” Wright said about Purdue’s steadiness under Painter. “I know their program. They rely