UConn vs. Purdue highlights: How Huskies beat Purdue to repeat as national champions

Connecticut is running it back-to-back.

The Huskies once again are on top of the college basketball world, winning their second consecutive national championship by beating Purdue, 75-60, on Monday night to cap off one of the dominant runs in NCAA Tournament history.

It was a close, back-and-forth first half, but the last 20 minutes of the game belonged all to Connecticut. The Huskies limited Zach Edey from having much of an impact early in the second half while their offense overpowered Purdue, whether it was near the basket or knocking down 3-point shots at critical moments. By the time Edey found a rhythm, it was too late.

Tristen Newton, who was named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player, led the Huskies with 20 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Even more impressive, Connecticut outrebounded one of the best rebounding teams in the country in Purdue.

Connecticut entered March Madness as the No. 1 overall seed and the overwhelming favorite to win the title. The Huskies went on to have an impressive run with a double-digit victory in every single round. The closest margin of victory was 14 and Connecticut won by an average of 23.3 points per game in the NCAA Tournament.

If Connecticut wasn’t considered a blue blood before, it certainly has put itself in the conversation among the best college basketball programs in the country. It’s the sixth championship – tied with North Carolina for the third most in Division I – and they’ve all come in the past 26 seasons.

Here's how the men's NCAA Tournament championship game unfolded:

UConn-Purdue highlights from NCAA national championship game

Ranking best men's college basketball champions

Connecticut's 75-60 win against Purdue for the men's national championship makes this official: The 2023-24 Huskies are not only the best team in program history but one of the best in recent NCAA history.

It's clear that UConn deserves to be ranked among the upper crust of national champions since the men's tournament expanded in 1985. Here’s how USA TODAY Sports ranks the best of the best from the past 40 seasons of college basketball.

Dan Hurley's bonus for UConn winning national championship

In addition to a net, a trophy and a ring, Connecticut men’s basketball coach Dan Hurley will collect a $500,000 bonus for the Huskies’ defeat of Purdue on Monday night in the NCAA men's tournament championship game.

Read more about it from Steve Berkowitz here.

What UConn's Dan Hurley said after Huskies' national championship

UConn coach Dan Hurley stood on the podium to accept the men's national championship trophy for a second consecutive season and exclaimed: "We’ve been running college basketball the last 30 years, let’s go!"

After the Huskies' thorough victory against Purdue, Hurley enjoyed himself in the falling confetti and remarked "kinda getting used to this up here, the confetti, the trophy."

Hurley briefly touched on the message this championship sent.

"The message was that we were the best team in the country," he said. "Purdue is clearly the second best team in the country. Play to our identity, be who we’ve been all year and we'll win."

UConn's Tristen Newton named most outstanding player

Tristen Newton led Connecticut all season, and he stepped up on the biggest stage and was named most outstanding player of the Final Four.

He had a team-high 20 points and seven assists, along with five rebounds. In the Final Four against Alabama, he had 12 points with nine assists and three rebounds. — Jordan Mendoza

Connecticut nears national title

With less than four minutes to go, Connecticut is nearing celebrating another national championship with a 65-49 lead.

Purdue has found some sort of offense with Zach Edey starting to knock down shots as he now has a game-high 29 points, but it might be too late to make a major difference. Connecticut is continuing to score at a successful rate that is keeping it a lengthy double-digit lead. — Jordan Mendoza

Connecticut closing in on victory

Connecticut can smell blood in the water.

The second half has been all Huskies as they are out to their largest lead of the game, up 56-40 with less than 10 minutes to go and a second consecutive national championship right in front of them.

Purdue’s offense has been non-existent and hasn’t made a shot in the past four minutes, and a 9-2 run has made it a 16-point game. Connecticut is 9-for-21 from the field in the second half while Purdue is 3-for-12. — Jordan Mendoza

Connecticut widening lead

Purdue is in dangerous territory.

Connecticut has found its flow on offense and is closing in on putting the Boilermakers away. The Huskies have a double-digit lead at 51-38 with less than 12 minutes to go.

Connecticut has disrupted Purdue’s offense and the Boilermakers just can’t keep up defensively in what is turning into an athletic mismatch. Connecticut is 7-for-17 from the field in the second half while Purdue is 3-for-11. Second chance points have killed Purdue in the second half. — Jordan Mendoza

Connecticut remains in front

It’s already a frenzy in the second half with hustle plays all over the floor as we are in the final 20 minutes of the college basketball season.

Connecticut leads 43-34 with just under 16 minutes left, its largest lead of the night. What’s hurting Purdue at the moment is Zach Edey has gone cold; he’s missed his last six shots and Connecticut is scoring with second chance points. — Jordan Mendoza

Who sang national anthem at the NCAA championship game?

Kahara Hodges, a vocalist and model of Diné, English, Mexican and African American heritage, sang the Star Spangled Banner before the men's national championship game.

Connecticut leads at halftime

It’s been a great national championship game so far, and with one half to go, Connecticut leads 36-30.

For how close it's been, the Huskies have led for more than 12 minutes of game time. What really helped Connecticut widen the gap? Starting to slow down Zach Edey while preventing other players from taking over. He had 14 points in the first 13 minutes of the game, but only two in the last seven.

Connecticut has gotten a collective effort, with five players scoring at least seven points. Tristen Newton leads the scoring for the defending champions with 11 points.

Both teams are nearly even in every statistical category, but Connecticut head coach Dan Hurley said he has liked the pace of the game in the first half.

“The pace of the game right now probably favors us a little bit. I think we're forcing them to play a little faster than they're used to,” he said. “Hopefully we can keep that pace on them and wear them down.”

Where is Purdue located?

Purdue University, home of the Boilermakers, is located in West Lafayette, Indiana, a densely populated college city that is about 65 miles northwest of Indianapolis. West Lafayette's population was listed at 44,595, according to the 2020 census.

Connecticut uses run to take lead

It’s been close the majority of the first half, but Connecticut is on the first run of the game and leads 30-25, the largest lead of the night so far.

The Huskies are on a 9-2 run in the past four minutes as a result of the defensive pressure it's putting on Purdue. The Boilermakers are one for their last seven shots. Meanwhile, Donovan Clingan is starting to heat up with five of the points during Connecticut’s run. He has seven points with two rebounds.

Connecticut, Purdue staying close

There have been four ties and eight lead changes in the first 13 minutes of this one, and Purdue and Connecticut are knotted up at 23-all. Purdue continues to go inside and is playing through Zach Edey, who has 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting. However, Connecticut is hitting 3-point shots with 3-of-7 made, while Purdue has missed its lone attempt.

There are foul concerns on both sides already. For the Huskies, Hassan Diarra already has two. Lance Jones, who was the star in the semifinal matchup against NC State, also has two fouls.

Zach Edey controlling the paint

The national player of the year is shining on the big stage.

Zach Edey has already put his mark on this game with 11 of Purdue’s 16 points, and he’s patrolling near the basket, with two emphatic blocks already. The Boilermakers are going inside often with 14 of their points near the basket.

While Purdue is getting close to the basket, Connecticut is doing a solid job of not letting the Boilermakers get the 3-point shot. Purdue is the second-best team in Division I at the 3-point ball, but it has gotten only one perimeter shot off so far.

Connecticut leads 18-16 with 11:28 left in the first half.

“He’s a tough cover. We gotta mix it up,” Connecticut head coach Dan Hurley said during the media timeout.

Connecticut takes early lead 

This has the feel of a national championship game with high intensity right out of the gate, as Connecticut leads 11-9 at the first media timeout.

The Huskies are riding Cam Spencer early with him scoring seven of the first 11 points for the defending champions.

The bigs – Connecticut’s Donovan Clingan and Purdue’s Zach Edey – are already battling in the matchup everyone was dying to see. Edey has been successful in taking shots against Clingan with four points, while Clingan was able to get a dunk.

Both teams are 4-for-7 from the field to start the night.

Starters for national championship game

Connecticut starters

  • Tristen Newton, guard

  • Stephon Castle, guard

  • Cam Spencer, guard

  • Alex Karaban, forward

  • Donovan Clingan, center

Purdue starters

  • Fletcher Loyer, guard

  • Braden Smith, guard

  • Lance Jones, guard

  • Trey Kaufman-Renn, forward

  • Zach Edey, center

What time does UConn play Purdue?

No. 1 UConn and No. 1 Purdue tip off at 9:20 ET tonight.

How to watch UConn vs. Purdue: TV channel, live stream 

TBS is airing tonight’s national championship. You can stream it on the NCAA March Madness Live app, HBO Max, HULU with Live TV, in addition to Sling TV and Fubo.

Purdue vs. UConn prediction: Huskies get another double-digit win in NCAA Tournament

UConn played its worst game of the tournament against Alabama and still won by 14 points. The Huskies are an intimidating bunch. Purdue can counter with Edey in the middle and an experienced backcourt. While Edey vs. Donovan Clingan is the marquee matchup, this game will be determined more so by whether the Boilermakers can defend the perimeter and limit the Huskies’ open looks. In a game that looks tight on paper, UConn has more room for error and could put together another double-digit win. — Paul Myerberg

UConn vs. Purdue prediction: Purdue stays close before UConn pulls away

It might seem crazy given how dominant Zach Edey has been in the past two seasons, but he won't be the best player on the court Monday. Donovan Clingan can match his length and has a significant edge in athletic ability that should be key to defending him. Purdue's best chance is riding its 3-point shooting - it ranks No. 1 in the country in percentage from behind the arc - which means Fletcher Loyer and Lance Jones have to be on their game for 40 minutes. Alabama showed you can push Connecticut for a while if you shoot well, but in the end the Huskies pulled away. Look for a similar result as UConn becomes the first team to repeat in 17 years. — Erick Smith

Purdue vs. UConn prediction: Purdue can win but it will be UConn that prevails

Let me state up front that Purdue absolutely can win this game. UConn is the No. 1 team in the field for a reason, but the Huskies are beatable. However, it takes a nearly perfect performance to pull it off. Alabama played about as well as it could have for 35 minutes Saturday night and still ran out of steam at the end. The Boilermakers have done a superb job eliminating the inconsistencies that led to their early demise last March, and they’re capable of playing a clean game. But I thought going into the tourney that the Huskies would have too many weapons for this championship matchup, and I’ll stand by that conclusion. — Eddie Timanus

UConn vs. Purdue prediction: Only a perfect game by Purdue can stop UConn

As much as I’d enjoy watching a great title game, my guess is that Purdue’s guards will get athletically exposed in this matchup and they’ll be battling uphill just like every other UConn opponent. UConn just does so many little things well on the offensive end that even poor shooting doesn’t seem to slow them down. Purdue will have to play nearly a perfect game to keep this close. — Dan Wolken

UConn vs. Purdue preview: What to know

In addition to pairing the nation’s two best teams, the national title tilt between UConn and Purdue involves programs with dialed-in fan bases, so naturally a championship here would be quite meaningful for whichever side prevails. The Huskies, one of the premier programs of the last quarter century, seek a second championship in succession and sixth overall. The Boilermakers, often second and sometimes third or lower fiddle in the basketball-mad state of Indiana, hope to hoist a long-awaited first banner.

At the centerpiece of this matchup is the clash of titans in the middle. At 7-2, UConn’s Donovan Clingan doesn’t usually give up any inches to his counterpart in the post, but the Boilermakers’ Zach Edey will actually have two on him. Even so, Edey will have a more difficult time than usual executing his signature jump hook against a defender who can nearly match his reach. In truth, the key to the game will probably unfold at the perimeter, where Purdue’s Braden Smith as the primary ball handler will face UConn’s constant pressure.

It will be up to Lance Jones and Fletcher Loyer to make their share of 3-pointers, as Alabama was able to do Saturday night, to stay within shouting distance of the Huskies. Though UConn’s prowess at the defensive end of the floor has been celebrated all season, its offensive efficiency is just as relentless, with Tristen Newton surgically dissecting opposing defenses and getting the ball to his numerous finishing options. Purdue is unlikely to repeat the mistake of leaving Stephon Castle alone, but Cam Spencer and Alex Karaban also demand attention. — Eddie Timanus 

UConn vs. Purdue predictions 

UConn vs. Purdue is a battle of heavyweights that the college basketball world deserves. All eyes will be on how Zach Edey is able to handle the mighty Huskies. Purdue has the caliber of a national championship team, and in any other year, it would likely be hoisting up the trophy. But this Connecticut team just doesn't seem like it can be stopped. Stephon Castle will have another great game, but watch out for Cam Spencer to shine. It's close for a majority of the game, but the Huskies pull away late to win back-to-back national championships. — Jordan Mendoza

Read all of USA TODAY Sports’ predictions here.

UConn vs. Purdue picks

Here are USA TODAY Sports’ staff picks for the UConn vs. Purdue national championship game.

  • Jordan Mendoza: UConn

  • Paul Myerberg: UConn

  • Erick Smith: UConn

  • Eddie Timanus: UConn

  • Dan Wolken: UConn

UConn vs. Purdue odds to win national championship

The Huskies are the favorites to win the national championship over the Boilermakers, according to BetMGM.

  • Spread: UConn (-7)

  • Moneylines: UConn (-310); Purdue (+250)

  • Over/under: 145.5

What to know about Zach Edey, Purdue's star big man

You can't have the men's NCAA Tournament without the potential back-to-back national player of the year. Zach Edey is back and leading Purdue into March Madness again, and is a major reason the Boilermakers are a No. 1 seed for the second straight season. This time, Purdue is hoping for a better outcome than last year – when it was eliminated by a No. 16 seed – and looking to make the Final Four for the first time since 1980. If Purdue does that, Edey will likely be a big reason for the trip to State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Here is everything to know about Purdue center Zach Edey.

Who won 2023 men's March Madness? 

Last year, the UConn Huskies defeated the San Diego State Aztecs 76-59 at NRG Stadium in Houston to win the school's fifth championship overall and first since 2014. Connecticut is looking to become the first team to win back-to-back championships since the Florida Gators, who won consecutive titles in 2006 and 2007.

Purdue’s path to 2024 national championship game

The No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region, the Purdue Boilermakers have enjoyed a relatively smooth ride to the Final Four in this year's NCAA Tournament. They posted a convincing win over No. 16 seed Grambling in the opening round, then blew out No. 8 Utah State, upended No. 5 Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 and edged No. 2 Tennessee in the regional final. Led by 7-foot-4 All-American Zach Edey, the Boilermakers have been at or near the top of the USA TODAY coaches poll all season long, including eight weeks at No. 1. — Steve Gardner

UConn NCAA Tournament championship game history

While the Connecticut men's basketball team isn't as accomplished as its women's team — the women's team has won 11 national championships — the men's program has essentially been flawless once it gets to the big game. The Huskies actually have a pristine 5-0 record in men's NCAA Tournament championship games. The Huskies have seven Final Four appearances, including the current 2024 run. — Lorenzo Reyes

Zach Edey vs. Donovan Clingan is one of many great matchups in March Madness title game 

Donovan Clingan and No. 1 Connecticut. Zach Edey and No. 1 Purdue.

Getting the no-doubt top two teams of this season to meet for the national championship is enough to make Monday night must-see TV. Adding in this matchup of big men might make this one of the most exciting pairings in recent NCAA men’s tournament history.

Edey is the most decorated player in program history. The two-time Naismith player of the year stands with Bill Walton and Ralph Sampson as the only multiple winners in the award’s history.

Clingan is "the most impactful player in the country," teammate Hassan Diarra said. The sophomore has played the best basketball of his career during tournament play, earning MVP honors in the East Region and scoring 18 points with four blocks against No. 4 Alabama in the Final Four.

Edey against Clingan ranks among the most highly anticipated frontcourt matchups in championship game history. Here’s more on Monday’s tilt and four others from the past 40 years.

How tall is Zach Edey?

Purdue center Zach Edey is listed at 7-foot-4, which makes him among the tallest players in college basketball this year. He's the tallest player left standing in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Purdue says Edey weighs 300 pounds.

Edey is among the most dominant, if not the most dominant, players in college basketball today. With a list of accolades that stand almost as tall as he does, it's no surprise the Boilermakers' big man is a lot to handle for opponents.

Has Purdue ever won a national championship in men's basketball?

No. The closest Purdue has come to winning a national championship was in 1969, when star guard Rick Mount led the Boilermakers to a 23-5 overall record and a Big Ten title. They defeated Miami (Ohio) and Marquette in the NCAA Tournament regionals to advance to the Final Four in Louisville, Kentucky. Purdue routed North Carolina 92-65 in the semifinals, but ran into John Wooden's UCLA buzzsaw in the championship game, losing 92-72. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored 37 points and pulled down 20 rebounds to lead the Bruins to their third of seven consecutive NCAA titles. — Steve Gardner

Donovan Clingan powering Connecticut as college basketball's 'most impactful player'

Donovan Clingan’s decision to return this season has keyed the Huskies’ development into a bulldozing juggernaut while turning Clingan into one of the nation’s top big-man prospects and a potential lottery pick in the upcoming NBA draft.

“He’s grown up,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “He wasn’t ready last year, just as a man, or as a young man. He was a big kid last year that could not survive in the NBA world, in those locker rooms, which are not very nurturing. He needed this year of development and growth.”

As Clingan has blossomed, so have the Huskies. It’s not a coincidence. Read Paul Myerberg’s full feature.

Zach Edey NBA draft projection

While he's been one of college basketball's most dominant players, some feel as though Zach Edey's game may not translate to the NBA level due to his lack of mobility.

USA TODAY Sports' Jeff Zilgitt and Scooby Axson believe that Edey's foot speed may not work at the next level to keep up with the sport's style and pace. Still, he may be a first-round selection come late June, especially if he continues to put on a monster showing through the remainder of March.

Boilermakers seek title on anniversary of historic Purdue celebration

While Purdue chases its first men's basketball championship tonight, 25 years ago the school was celebrating another tournament win. The Purdue women's team won the university's first and only basketball title in 1999 when the Boilermakers beat Duke 62-45. That championship team was led by Stephanie White, who won the Wade Trophy for best women's college basketball player in 1999 and last year was named WNBA coach of the year as head coach of the Connecticut Sun.

A UConn win tonight would coincide with three anniversaries. The Huskies won their first men's basketball title 25 years ago in 1999. Twenty years ago, UConn doubled up, winning both the men's and women's titles in 2004. The Huskies repeated that feat 10 years later in 2014. — Ellen Horrow

Connecticut looking to join elite list of repeat champs

If the Huskies beat Purdue, they will become the eighth school to ever repeat as national champions in the 85-year history of the NCAA Tournament.

Here are the schools to win back-to-back national championships in men’s NCAA Tournament history:

  • Oklahoma State: 1945-46

  • Kentucky: 1948-49

  • San Francisco: 1955-56

  • Cincinnati: 1961-62

  • UCLA: 1964-65, 1967-73

  • Duke: 1991-92

  • Florida: 2006-07

Jordan Mendoza

Where is Kemba Walker now?

Connecticut’s 2011 championship run was fueled by Kemba Walker. The star point guard became known as Cardiac Kemba for his clutch shots, most notably a buzzer beater to win the Big East tournament.

Walker was then drafted by the Charlotte Bobcats, who became the Hornets in his tenure there, and spent time with the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks.

The Bronx native took his talents overseas this season and is a member of the EuroLeague’s AS Monaco. In March, he had 10 points and three rebounds in a game against his former Huskies teammate Shabazz Napier and Armani Milan. Walker averages 4.5 points per game off the bench. — Victoria Hernandez

Purdue’s Zach Edey vs. UConn’s Donovan Clingan

This will be a "battle of the giants," Connecticut coach Dan Hurley said. "I think it’s just great for college basketball to get the two big dogs playing on Monday night."

Zach Edey, 7-foot-4, and Donovan Clingan, 7-foot-2, are special defenders capable of controlling the paint. Edey averages 24.9 points per game and is the more polished scorer, but Clingan’s game has stepped up in the past month. Where Clingan may have an advantage is in transition; his ability to get down court led to a pair of dunks that sealed the deal against the Crimson Tide. Will he play more than his customary 25 minutes? Edey has been on the court for every key minute of play during Purdue’s run to the championship game and could take advantage of Clingan’s absence. — Paul Myerberg

'It’s about time': Drew Brees proud of Purdue in national championship

The Purdue Boilermakers were last in the Final Four in 1980. Former NFL quarterback Drew Brees was barely a year old.

"It’s about time," he said in an appearance on TNT’s pregame show ahead of the national championship matchup against the Connecticut Huskies.

Brees, who was a Heisman Trophy finalist twice in his time at Purdue, expressed his appreciation for how the team, led by head coach Matt Painter has carried on Purdue’s tradition of excellence. Last year, they were upset in the first round and were knocked out as a No. 1 seed. This year was redemption.

"It makes us so proud. I think we’ve always prided ourselves on having a great basketball program, one that not only prides ourself on skill development, but character and leadership development and graduating our players," he said. "I think Matt Painter’s done a phenomenal job and I think, too, the way that we ended last season, losing as a No. 1 seed in the first round, coming back the way that we have, very decisively throughout the regular season, carrying that No. 1 tag, which is hard to do. You’ve got that bullseye on your chest. And then marching our way to the Finals, this is the matchup that everybody wanted to see right here. Purdue and UConn."

Brees said he was excited for the matchup of big men between Purdue’s Zach Edey and Connecticut’s Donovan Clingan. He said that the Boilermakers are ready for the big matchup.

"You win the game before you step on the court," he said. "And I feel like we’ve won the game before we stepped on the court. With our preparation, with our mindset, the way that we’ve handled all of the adversity, we belong here." — Victoria Hernandez

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: UConn vs Purdue highlights: How Huskies repeated as national champions