Purdue coach Matt Painter watched about a half of St. Mary's basketball right after learning his Boilermakers would play the Gaels in the NCAA tourney on Friday in Omaha, Nebraska. It was the first time he has seen St. Mary's this season.
"They just have a lot of guys that can dribble, pass and shoot," Painter told reporters about an hour after the brackets were announced. "No matter who you draw, they're going to be a good basketball team. They're in the NCAA tournament for a reason."
St. Mary's owns a 27-5 record. They won the regular season title and conference tourney in the West Coast Conference. St. Mary's beat Gonzaga last Monday to earn an automatic invitation to the NCAA tourney. The Gaels feature junior guard Matthew Dellavedova, the West Coast Conference player of the year.
Purdue returns to the NCAA tourney for the sixth consecutive year. Purdue is the 10th seed in the Midwest Region, St. Mary's is the 7th seed. The Boilermakers have won 13 consecutive opening games in the NCAA tourney.
The Purdue bracket was one of the last revealed on Selection Sunday.
"Guys we're kind of looking at each other asking, 'Are we getting in?'" said senior point guard Lewis Jackson. "It's just great to see your name up there. You just really appreciate it. I can't wait to go back and play in it."
Senior forward Robbie Hummel has missed the tourney the past two seasons because of knee injuries.
"Just to finally play in this tournament will be a culmination of a lot of hard work," said Hummel, relaxing in a front row seat at Mackey Arena. "I think it's a great thing for our team to have a chance to make a run here in March."
Purdue has not lost its opening game in the tourney since 1993. Coach Matt Painter was a player on that team. The Boilers make their 26th NCAA Tournament appearance overall. Purdue has never played St. Mary's previously.
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