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UConn and Purdue set for clash of the titans in the national championship

The two imposing centers headline stacked rosters looking to complete impressive NCAA Tournament runs by lifting a trophy in State Farm Stadium


The 2024 NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship trophy on Jan. 17, 2024 at the Final Four Tip-Off press conference in Phoenix.

The 2024 men's national championship is here, and it couldn’t get any better than UConn versus Purdue.

The two No. 1 seeds will face off on college basketball’s biggest stage at State Farm Stadium. The matchup pits two vastly different teams against each other in a game that should see fireworks galore.

"To be able to play the national championship versus Purdue, how good they are, how Matt runs things, it's a real privilege to play them for the championship," UConn head coach Dan Hurley said.

Purdue senior center Zach Edey and UConn sophomore center Donovan Clingan highlight the two complete teams. Edey’s seven-foot-four-inch, 300-pound frame makes him one of the most demanding players to guard in basketball. His bruising play in the paint earned him back-to-back Big Ten Player of the Year and National College Player of the Year awards. 

The Canadian center scored 20 points while grabbing 12 rebounds in Purdue’s 63-50 Final Four win over NC State. While his outing was impressive, his 20-point performance broke a 14-game streak of scoring at least 22 points. 

Edey took 14 shots and two free throws in the game after attempting 21 shots and 22 free throws in the Boilermakers’ win over Tennessee in the Elite Eight. Clingan said he’s ready to do what he can to slow down the big man.

"I'm really excited," Clingan said. "You play at this level to play big-time matchups, big-time games. I have a lot of respect for Zach Edey. He's a great player."

As for the Huskies, Clingan stacks up to Edey better than most. The Connecticut native weighs 280 pounds on a seven-foot-two-inch frame, four inches taller than any NC State defender Edey went toe to toe with.

"Clingan is really good," Purdue head coach Matt Painter said. "He changes the game defensively, but offensively, he's a good player, too. He's just going to keep coming."

UConn’s backcourt has the potential to compensate for Clingan’s shortcomings if Edey is firing on all cylinders. Graduate guards Cam Spencer and Tristen Newton have led the Huskies with 14.9 and 14.4 points per game this season, respectively, while also leading in assists.

Players like Clingan and Spencer are essential, but Dan Hurley can get anyone to score. This season, five different UConn players averaged over 10 points per game or more, but none average more than Spencer’s mark. The Huskies’ unselfish offense is far different from Purdue’s reliance on Edey for basket after basket.

"It's a great matchup between two teams who have had two great years," Spencer said. "Obviously, we have a lot of respect for them and their program."

UConn is a bona fide basketball powerhouse. The Huskies have won five National Championships and are looking to become the first repeat champions since Florida in 2006 and 2007. The same can’t be said for the Boilermakers, who has never won a championship and played in their last title game in 1969.

"It's an incredible, incredible experience," Dan Hurley said. "The second time you make it feels just as good as the first."

READ MORE: From Jersey with love, Bobby Hurley has deep ties to the Final Four

A Boilermakers victory would mean redemption for a team that lost to Fairleigh Dickinson University and Saint Peter’s in back-to-back tournaments. Lifting a trophy would also be the crowning achievement of Painter’s 19-year career at Purdue.

UConn and Purdue will face off on Monday in Glendale. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:20 p.m. PT, and the game will be broadcast on TBS/TNT/TruTV.

Edited by Vinny DeAngelis, Walker Smith and Shane Brennan

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