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Follow live: Purdue has early edge on NC State as Final Four fires up

In Sports
April 07, 2024

The stage is set in Phoenix. The men’s NCAA tournament started at 68 teams and only four are left standing. One of those teams will walk away with a national championship on Monday.

But first, the two semifinal games tip off Saturday with No. 1 seed Purdue vs. No. 11 NC State. The Boilermakers are led by presumptive National Player of the Year and dominant big man Zach Edey. It’s a team on a mission for redemption after it suffered a shocking upset to 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson last year. On the other side is the Wolfpack, the biggest surprise of this tournament by a lot. NC State is anchored by big man DJ Burns, who has become a crowd favorite during the team’s Cinderella run.

In the late game, it’s No. 1 overall seed and defending champion UConn vs. Alabama. UConn is the heavy favorite to win it all again behind a balanced and versatile roster that’s all held together by point guard Tristen Newton. The Huskies will have to contend with the high-flying offense of Alabama, which is making its first Final Four appearance in program history.

Who will be left standing at the end of the night? Follow along here as it all unfolds.

Final Four schedule

(all times Eastern)

6:09 p.m. — No. 1 Purdue vs. No. 11 NC State (TBS)

8:49 p.m. — No. 1 UConn vs. No. 4 Alabama (TBS)

Live31 updates

  • Backup Ben Middlebrooks has shown more success than Burns defending Edey and forced one of Purdue’s eight turnovers in the half on a swipe of Edey in the post.

    Purdue — which is second in the nation in 3-point success (40.6%) — is 5 of 12 (41.7%) from 3 at halftime.

  • DJ Horne — not Burns — is the story of NC State’s offense so far. The senior guard has 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field.

    Zach Edey unsurprisingly leads the way for Purdue with 14 points and eight rebounds on 6-of-9 shooting. Burns has struggled to combat Edey’s height and missed the last several minutes of the half after picking up his second foul on an Edey hook shot.

  • NC State’s not going away. A team that’s won nine-straight elimination games and rallied for a dominant second half to top rival Duke in the Elite Eight has cut a double-digit deficit to six points at the half. Purdue lead, 35-29 at the break.

    Backup Ben Middlebrooks has shown some success defending Zach Edey with DJ Burns on the bench with two fouls. Purdue’s lead was just three points before a Fletcher Loyer 3 doubled the margin on Purdue’s last possession of the half.

  • A much-needed surge here for the Wolfpack. They’ve hit four out of five shots including a Jayden Taylor 3-pointer to cut Purdue’s lead to 30-25.

  • A lot’s going right for Purdue in the first half, including success from long distance. The nation’s best 3-point shooting team is 4 for 10 from beyond the arc late in the half. 28-18 lead for the Boilermakers.

  • Here’s a good size comparison between the 7-4, 300-pound Edey and the 6-9, 275-pound DJ Burns.

  • Zach Edey’s fourth hook shot over DJ Burns didn’t connect. But it did draw Burns’ second foul. Purdue leads, 26-16 with 6:29 remaining in the half. Free throws from Edey up next after a timeout.

  • NC State’s struggling to penetrate Purdue’s zone defense. The Wolfpack are gonna need to hit some 3s to keep pace.

  • Another hook shot for Edey over Burns. That’s three now en route to 10 points for the Purdue center.

  • Like every other team this tournament, NC State’s got nothing for Zach Edey’s size. He has eight points on 4-of-6 shooting as Purdue leads 18-11.

  • Michael O’Connell’s gone to the locker room, according to the game broadcast.

  • NC State guard Michael O’Connell just fell to the floor and grabbed his thigh, then walked off the court. Looks like something with his hamstring.

  • Burns is back in and playing Edey 1-on-1 again. He’s holding his ground in the paint, but has no answer for Edey’s height. Edey’s second hook shot over Burns gives Purdue a 14-7 lead.

  • Braden Smith has two over-and-back violations in the game’s first five minutes. Uncharacteristically sloppy ball handling from the Purdue point guard.

  • Purdue’s in control early with a 12-4 lead at the first TV timeout. The Boilermakers are hitting from inside and out (2 3-pointers) and rebounding their own misses. They have 5 offensive rebounds leading to 10 in the first 5:14 of the game.

    DJ Horne has both of NC State’s buckets.

  • DJ Burns gets an early break. Ben Middlebrooks is in the game before the 17-minute mark and will be tasked with guarding Edey.

  • Burns is guarding Edey one-on-one early. Edey backed him down and connected on a hook shot on Purdue’s second possession for a 4-0 lead.

  • And we’re off. Zach Edey wins the opening tip, and Purdue’s on the board with the first points of the Final Four on a short Trey Kaufman-Renn jumper.

  • Zach Edey and DJ Burns Jr. have been unstoppable forces in the paint throughout the tournament. Something’s gotta give tonight.

  • The traditional national anthem featuring athletes from each Final Four school is in the books:

  • Purdue football icon Drew Brees is in the house to cheer on the Boilermakers

  • We’re minutes from tipoff. NC State took the floor with walkout music.

  • The most popular bet in the Final Four is NC State

    Click photo for story. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

    Click photo for story. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

  • March Madness: Ranking the men’s Final Four starters from 1 to 20

    Click photo for story. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

    Click photo for story. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

  • How Final Four stars Zach Edey and Donovan Clingan project as NBA big men

    Click photo for story (Henry Russell/Yahoo Sports)

    Click photo for story (Henry Russell/Yahoo Sports)

  • Tristen Newton’s remarkable journey from underrated high school recruit to UConn’s star point guard

    Click photo to read story. (Photo by Brett Wilhelm/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

    Click photo to read story. (Photo by Brett Wilhelm/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

  • How a midseason intervention fueled DJ Burns’ improbable star turn and NC State’s miraculous Final Four run

    Click photo to read story. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

    Click photo to read story. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

  • March Madness conundrum: How do you officiate Purdue big man Zach Edey?

    Click photo to read story. (Nicholas Muller/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

    Click photo to read story. (Nicholas Muller/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

  • The action tips off in earnest here in 25 minutes or so. Here’s some reading material while we wait for the action to begin!

  • Good afternoon folks and welcome to our NCAA men’s tournament Final Four live tracker!

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