The 2012 NCAA Tournament is only a couple days away, which means time is running short to figure out who exactly will make a difference in your NCAA tournament bracket. For one Bay Area team, the disrespect card is coming in loud and clear. The Saint Mary's Gaels head into the tournament as a seven seed facing the tenth-seeded Purdue Boilermakers, and yet they sit as one and a half point underdogs.
The 7/10 matchup is always a tough one to project, with a lot of people jumping on the ten seed as an early upset special. Although it seems odds for the higher seed to be an underdog in this matchup, many tens are actually favored quite frequently over sevens.
Saint Mary's faces a physically demanding defensive team in the Boilermakers. SMC is not some kind of wallflower, but they will be a bit undersized as compared to Purdue. The Boilermakers are not a monstrous team, but they have a size advantage on the Gaels. At the same time, they struggle enough offensively that it will be interesting to see if they can stick around with Saint Mary's slightly more up-tempo and long range shooting game.
The big question will be if Stephen Holt plays. The guard is arguably Saint Mary's best defender and key overall contributor. He has been out for three weeks. While he did warm up in the two WCC tournament games, it remains to be seen if he will be able to go on Friday. If Holt is a go, I think Saint Mary's has an excellent shot at pulling this one out. However, an injured Holt limits the Gaels. During his absence, the team struggled mightily against some of the better teams in the WCC and could struggle early in the tournament.