March Madness: Schools that can become a first-time national champion
4. Purdue Boilermakers
The Big Ten’s second first-time title threat is Purdue, which has been an offensive force all season long. Jaden Ivey is a future lottery pick that can dominate a game at any point while the Boilermakers can surround him with playmakers like center Zach Edey and forward Trevion Williams.
The one concern for Purdue is its defense, which is admittedly suspect at best, but the Boilermakers are more than capable of winning six shootouts in a row to cut down the nets in April. If Purdue is able to bring more intensity on the defensive end in March their chances of winning it all would skyrocket.
3. Texas Tech Red Raiders
The adage “defense wins championships” is a strong rationale to back Texas Tech as a potential national champion. The Red Raiders’ renowned defense has actually gotten better despite Chris Beard’s decision to bolt for Texas last spring as longtime assistant Mark Adams has gotten his team to buy in on the defensive end at an elite level.
Owners of the nation’s best defense according to KenPom, Texas Tech is also balanced offensively with four players averaging 10 points per game and a fifth checking in at 9.8 points a night. The Red Raiders offer the best chance of following Virginia’s 2019 title-winning blueprint and could be lethal if their shots are falling in March.