INDIANAPOLIS — Purdue has changed its stripes.
The Boilermakers for years have been known for their grind-it-out style. This Purdue team scores big and fires threes at will. They made 25 3-pointers in two games at the Big Ten tournament and have averaged 77 points in their past six games.
"We're scoring and hitting our stride at the right time," Purdue point guard Lewis Jackson said.
Purdue will face Saint Mary's (Calif.) on Friday in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The 10th-seeded Boilermakers received their sixth straight NCAA bid on Sunday night. The Midwest Region matchup in Omaha, Neb., will be the first meeting between the schools. Saint Mary's (27-5) defeated Gonzaga to win the West Coast Conference tournament title.
"They're not really a mid-major in some sense because them and Gonzaga always get into the tournament," Jackson said. "They're used to the big stage, so I know it's going to be a tough and physical game."
Purdue has won its first game in the tournament 13 straight times, winning each game since 1993. The Boilermakers' streak of six consecutive appearances is their longest since making eight straight trips from 1993-2000.
Butler, the national runner-up in 2010 and 2011, will not be going back to the NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs host Delaware on Wednesday in the College Basketball Invitational. Valparaiso will play in the NIT at No. 2 seed Miami on Wednesday and Evansville will host Princeton in the CBI.
Butler coach Brad Stevens considers Delaware, a member of the Colonial Athletic Association, a tough draw.
"Obviously, the CAA speaks for itself, and Delaware has had a terrific run," he said. "It's a team that is young with a terrific player in (Devon) Saddler and a bunch of other guys without a senior playing much. We've got our hands full, we know that. We've always said it's a privilege to play beyond your conference tournament, so we're looking forward to playing."
Purdue (21-12) has won four of its past six games, including a win at Michigan. The Boilermakers are coming off an 88-72 loss to Ohio State, but that doesn't worry the team.The Boilermakers like their situation.
"The seed's not actually bad," Jackson said. "Once you're in, you're in, so the matchup was good, and you just get excited."
The players knew about Saint Mary's, but had few specifics.
"This is where you kind of draw on those preseason tournaments you play in for some help, because you really don't know much about these teams, especially Saint Mary's, because they're on the west coast and they play so late at night," Purdue forward Robbie Hummel said.Comment on this story
Valparaiso (22-11), the Horizon League regular-season champion, lost in the conference tournament final against Detroit. The Crusaders received an automatic bid to the NIT by winning the regular season title.
Valpo center Kevin Van Wijk, the team's No. 2 scorer, bruised his knee against Detroit and has been limited in practice.
Miami (19-12), from the Atlantic Coast Conference, has wins over Florida State and at Duke this season
"I think it's a great opportunity," Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew said. "We have no seniors on the team. I think it's great from that standpoint."
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/cliffbruntap