Saint Peter’s (22-11 straight up, 22-9-1 against the spread) became the first No. 15 seed in NCAA Tournament history to make the Elite Eight by beating Purdue 67-64 on Friday night. The Peacocks won outright as 13-point underdogs, hooking up money-line supporters with a +650 return.
There was no fluke factor whatsoever. Purdue never led by more than six points and Saint Peter’s never led by more than four. The Peacocks trailed by four with four minutes left.
In the final minute, Saint Peter’s made six consecutive clutch free throws. When Jaden Ivey buried a 3-pointer with eight seconds remaining to cut the deficit to one, Doug Edert drained both attempts from the stripe with four ticks left. Ivey got another shot at the buzzer, but his 35-footer was off the mark.
The Boilermakers dominated the glass, outrebounding Saint Peter’s by a 37-20 margin. However, the Peacocks forced Purdue to cough up 14 turnovers while committing only eight of their own.
Saint Peter’s continued to play lockdown defense, holding Purdue to more than 16 points below its scoring average. The Boilermakers were ranked seventh nationally in scoring (80.7 points per game), third in field-goal percentage (49.7%) and third in 3-point accuracy (39.7%).
The Peacocks are ranked 18th in the country in FG-percentage ‘D’ (39.1%), 24th in scoring defense (62.4 PPG) and 26th at defending the 3-point line (30.0%). They’ve held nine of their last 10 opponents to 65 points or fewer.
Shaheen Holloway’s team is on a 10-game winning streak both SU and ATS, winning by double-digit margins six times. With last night’s win, the Peacocks improved to 10-2-1 ATS with seven outright victories in 13 games as underdogs this year.
Here are some key highlights from crunch time last night:
Edert, the junior guard, added to his growing status as a March Madness legend, hitting 7-of-8 free-throw attempts in a 10-point effort. He’s scored in double figures in five consecutive games, including a 20-point performance in Saint Peter’s overtime win over Kentucky in the opening round.
Now Holloway’s squad gets North Carolina in the East Region finals at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Sunday at 5:05 p.m. Eastern. The Tar Heels have been installed as 8.5-point favorites with a total of 137. The Peacocks are +310 on the money line.
UNC advanced past UCLA by going on a 12-2 run in the final 90 seconds to capture a 73-66 victory as a 2.5-point underdog. Caleb Love was the catalyst with 30 points, three rebounds and four assists compared to only one turnover.
The 139 combined points fell ‘under’ the 141-point tally in UNC’s win over the Bruins. Nevertheless, the ‘over’ is on a 16-7-1 run for the Tar Heels, who have won nine of their last 10 games while going 8-2 ATS.
The ‘under’ has cashed at a 6-3 clip for the Peacocks in their last nine games.
Going into Saturday’s slate, DraftKings now has Kansas as the +275 ‘chalk’ to win the 2022 NCAA Tournament. Houston has the next-shortest odds at +350. Those schools are followed by Duke (+400), UNC (+600), Villanova (+600), Arkansas (10/1), Miami (25/1) and Saint Peter’s (60/1).
According to the Westgate SuperBook’s Jay Kornegay, his staff only took one $2 bet on the Peacocks to win it all at 5,000/1 odds.
There weren’t any believers in Saint Peter’s two weeks ago. Now? Well, after wins over Kentucky, Murray St. and Purdue, the Peacocks are just one step away from the Final Four. Only North Carolina stands in the way from Saint Peter’s dancing down to New Orleans next weekend.