NC State and Purdue will meet in the Final Four on Saturday night in Phoenix.

The stakes couldn’t be higher for either program. The Wolfpack are on this sage for the first time since 1983 when they won their most-recent national championship. Purdue, meanwhile, hasn’t been in the Final Four since 1980 and is looking for its first-ever national title. The Boilermakers are also fighting for redemption after bowing out in the first-round of the NCAA Tournament last season.

Purdue has been a front-runner all season, despite that stunning NCAA Tournament loss last March. Matt Painter’s team earned a No. 1 seed after cruising to the Big Ten regular season title. On the other side, NC State has peaked at the right time with 9 consecutive wins dating back to the start of the NCAA Tournament. Seven of those victories were upsets, including 3 so far in the Big Dance. If NC State is going to extend its season to Monday night, it would have to pull off yet another upset over the Boilermakers in the Final Four.

Let’s dig into the details of this matchup:

NC State vs. Purdue  Betting Odds

Spread: Purdue -9.5 (via ESPN Bet)

Total: Over/Under 146.5 points (via ESPN Bet)

Betting trends to know for NC State

NC State is…

  • 20-19-1 against the spread this season
  • 12-6-1 against the spread as an underdog
  • 3-1 against the spread during the NCAA Tournament
  • 7-2 against the spread during its 9-game winning streak

Betting trends to know for Purdue 

Purdue  is…

  • 20-15-2 against the spread this season
  • 18-15-2 against the spread as a favorite
  • 4-0 against the spread during the NCAA Tournament
  • 9-5-1 against the spread as a favorite of under 10 points

3 notes for the game

Zach Edey’s unbelievable hot streak

The ongoing discourse about how Zach Edey is officiated may be distracting from just how dominant he’s been over the past few weeks — especially in the NCAA Tournament. Last weekend, Edey scored 40 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in a close win over Tennessee in the Elite Eight. Since Feb. 10, Edey is averaging 28.1 points and 13.1 rebounds per contest. He’s shooting 62% from the field and averaging 13.2 free throw attempts per outing over that 14-game sample. 

That kind of dominance has rarely been seen at the collegiate level in recent years — or maybe ever in the modern era. Edey’s points + rebounds prop at ESPN Bet currently sits at 40.5 as of Saturday morning. Edey has gone over that total in 4 of Purdue’s 6 postseason games (including the Big Ten Tournament) so far. Statistically, NC State’s defense ranks 44th nationally according to KenPom’s efficiency rankings. Of the programs Purdue has faced since the start of the postseason, only Michigan State and Tennessee have higher-rated defenses.

Can DJ Burns keep it going?

While Edey has been putting up gaudy stat lines, NC State’s DJ Burns has been making history as well. Burns scored 29 points in NC State’s Elite Eight upset win over Duke, which clinched the Wolfpack’s first Final Four appearance since 1983. Burns has been NC State’s most consistent offensive player during this run, even getting two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic to comment on his game earlier this week.

Burns vs. Edey figures to be a showdown for the ages. Edey is exceptional at avoiding foul trouble for a player of his size, but Burns will insist on physicality in this Final Four matchup.

“He hasn’t had anybody put scoring pressure on him as much as I will, well maybe he did, but not under a stage like this,” Burns told reporters on Friday.

Burns is averaging 16.6 points per game during NC State’s 9-game winning streak. His point total prop for Saturday night against the Boilermakers is currently set at 14.5 points, per DraftKings.

NC State’s 3-point defense

NC State’s 3-point defense has been incredible during this run — and perhaps the single most important factor in why the Wolfpack have pulled off 7 upsets since the postseason began (including the ACC Tournament). NC State opponents are shooting just over 28% from beyond the arc in postseason play. The Wolfpack’s defense has been even better in the NCAA Tournament alone, limiting offenses to under 24% shooting from downtown. During the ACC’s regular season, that figure for NC State was north of 36%.

Purdue is the best 3-point shooting team that NC State will have faced on this run. The Boilermakers surround Edey with capable shooters like Braden Smith, Mason Gillis, Lance Jones and Fletcher Loyer. As a team, Purdue made north of 40% of its 3-point attempts on the season — good for 2nd nationally. NC State could be due for some regression in the 3-point defense department, and Purdue seems more than capable of making the Wolfpack pay from beyond the arc. Gillis, Purdue’s best 3-point shooter this season by percentage, currently has an over/under of 1.5 made 3-pointers at DraftKings.

1 pick for this game

Purdue -9.5 (+100 at ESPN Bet). NC State is the 7th double-digit seed all-time to reach the Final Four. The other 6 have all failed to make out of the semifinal round, and almost all of them have lost by double-digits. It’s incredibly rare for a team to sustain a run like the Wolfpack have for the last few weeks, and they deserve all the credit in the world for doing so. But I think this will finally be the end of a historic postseason for NC State. Edey is too focused, too dialed-in. Purdue’s 3-point shooters are too good. Its defense is also borderline-elite and will give perimeter players like DJ Horne trouble as well. NC State has been the nation’s best story during this NCAA Tournament, but I think Purdue cruises to a title-game appearance.