All eyes on West Lafayette as Purdue hosts Villanova

FILE - Keady Court in Mackey Arena on the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. (WLFI Photo)
FILE - Keady Court in Mackey Arena on the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. (WLFI Photo)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — The college basketball world turns its attention to West Lafayette’s Mackey Arena Monday night, as Purdue hosts the defending national champions — Villanova.

Purdue and Villanova have each played one game this season and both teams get a huge step up in competition Monday night. The Wildcats are the third-ranked team in the country.

Sports 18 had a chance to talk to Villanova head coach Jay Wright earlier Monday, who said it was his first time to Mackey Arena.

“This is really cool. It kind of hits you as you walk in here. The tradition and the history,” Wright said. “We talked to our team about that. We have a lot of east coast guys. We talked to them about the tradition of Purdue basketball. Coach Wooden and Rick Mount, Gene Keady. So these are the great experiences that kids get when you get to play college basketball.”

Wright said he has a healthy respect for the Boilermakers and their history.

The Wildcats return an experienced team including their top two leading scorers from last season.

Purdue hasn’t hosted a defending champ at Mackey since 1990 against Michigan. But the Boilers said they understand the rarity of this game.

Purdue junior guard P.J. Thompson said Villanova’s resume speaks for itself and with the Wildcats being national champs, he said you can’t write anything better than that.

“They’re a really skilled team, and they play really hard, and they play really well together. It’s going to be a tough matchup, but you have to embrace that,” Thompson said. “That’s what you want. If I wanted to play somebody and put it on the schedule for next year, it would be the national champs. And you get to play them in front of the fans that we got — you can’t ask for something better than that.”

Purdue senior guard Spike Albrecht said, “It’s unbelievable, especially any time you get to play the defending national champs, especially at home. It’s going to be a great game for us to see where we’re at as a team. But also for our crowd and our fans, so it’s going to be electric in here.”

Tune in Monday night for a complete game wrap up with highlights and postgame reaction on News 18 at 11.