Purdue begins another NCAA tourney atop the Midwest Region after losing to a 16-seed a year ago

Purdue coach Matt Painter, reigning AP player of the year Zach Edey and the rest of the Boilermakers have had to carry with them all season the stink of becoming the second No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

They can truly put that loss to Fairleigh Dickinson behind them when they play Montana State or Grambling State on Friday in Indianapolis.

The Boilermakers once again earned a No. 1 seed on Sunday, one day after losing to Wisconsin in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament, and will begin their trek toward their first Final Four appearance since 1980 in nearby Indianapolis.

It could include a matchup with fourth-seeded Kansas or No. 5 seed Gonzaga, two teams accustomed to much better seeds this time of year, just to reach the Sweet 16. And to reach the Final Four, the road could go through second-seeded Tennessee or No. 3 seed Creighton, who are both coming off disappointing appearances in their conference tournaments.

The Vols lost to Mississippi State in the quarterfinals of the SEC tourney and the Bluejays to Providence in the Big East.

Perhaps the biggest question mark involves the Jayhawks, who were the preseason No. 1 and got off to a tremendous start behind Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson. They struggled once conference play began, when Kevin McCullar Jr. began having trouble with his knee, and then lost their 7-foot centerpiece to a shoulder injury in a 30-point loss to Houston a week ago.

Kansas coach Bill Self played without both of them in the Big 12 Tournament, where they were waylaid by 20 by Cincinnati in the second round, but expects Dickinson and McCullar to practice Monday and be ready for the NCAA Tournament.


AP March Madness bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-mens-bracket and coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness

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