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Zach Edey on what Purdue wants to show to basketball fans during March Madness

Purdue gearing up for NCAA Tournament

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Purdue University men’s basketball team is getting ready for its first-round NCAA Tournament game.

The No. 1 seeded Boilermakers will face No. 16 seeded Grambling State on Friday night in Indianapolis.

This is the second straight year that Purdue has earned a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance. Of course, last year, the Boilermakers were upset in this round by No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson.

“I think a lot of people on this team have that game in the back of our mind, and that’s not who we are,” Purdue senior center Zach Edey said. “That’s not what we’re defined by. I think a lot of people on the team want to show that’s not the truth.”

The players who were part of last year’s team do feel different heading into the NCAA Tournament this March.

“I’d say we’re hungrier than we were last year,” Purdue sophomore guard Fletcher Loyer said. “Last year, we won the Big Ten and the Big Ten Tournament, something that’s very hard to do, and we still know that’s not enough. We know winning the regular season this year putting in all that work to fight back and win another ring, it’s huge, but it’s not what we want to do. We want to win a National Championship.”

There’s no question that the upset loss last year has dominated the discussion surrounding Purdue entering this year’s tournament. Head coach Matt Painter was asked on Thursday if he thought it would be a sense of relief if his guys were able to get a convincing win in this round of the tournament on Friday.

“I don’t think it’s a sense of relief more than it is of just playing well and feeling good about that,” Painter said. “I think anytime — you have an awful practice, and as a coach, I think all coaches would understand this. You walk away and you wonder if you can beat anybody when you have an awful practice, then you’ll just have a great practice and wonder, I don’t know if we can get beat. Those are natural feelings that you have. You know you’re normally somewhere in the middle there.

But when you play games and you win, especially on neutral courts, and we’ve done this in exempt tournaments, we did it with when we went to Elite 8 in 2019, you just feel a little bit better about yourself and you build that confidence. The problem is the team you’re playing did the same thing, but I think that’s more than anything of just getting that first win and getting some confidence, and trying to keep go in the same direction.”

Purdue’s game on Friday will tip-off at 7:25 p.m. EDT inside Gainbridge Fieldhouse.