April 15, 2024

DJ Burns Jr. vs. Zach Edey: NC State and Purdue big men to clash in Final Four providing showdown we want


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No. 11 seed NC State and No. 1 seed Purdue meeting Saturday in the Final Four is a metaphorical David vs. Goliath matchup. Literally speaking, though, a Goliath vs. Goliath matchup is a more apt description for what’s on tap in a thrilling head-to-head between Boilermakers big man Zach Edey and his Wolfpack counterpart, DJ Burns Jr.


Edey is a towering 7-foot-4, 300 pounds and the current face of college basketball. Burns is a burly 6-9, 275 pounds and the current face of March Madness after leading NC State to its first Final Four since 1983. Both have dominated the 2024 NCAA Tournament and in the process taken their teams to the final weekend of the tourney. Now, each are likely to be the primary defender for the other in one of the biggest and most fascinating individual showdowns of March Madness.


Let’s dive into the Tale of the Tape between two of arguably the biggest NCAA Tournament stars entering the final weekend.


Tale of the Tape: DJ Burns Jr. vs. Zach Edey 


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DJ Burns Jr. Zach Edey
6-9 Height 7-4
275 Weight 300
Senior Year Senior
Rock Hill, South Carolina Hometown Toronto, Ontario
13.0 Points per game 25.0
4.1 Rebounds per game 12.2
53.40% Field Goal Percentage 62.40%
0.6 Blocks per game 2.2






It’s hard to imagine this NCAA Tournament matchup on paper would have even been on the table a few weeks ago — NC State lost seven of its final nine regular season games and needed to win five games in five days at the ACC Tournament to get into the NCAAs — but Edey vs. Burns no doubt presents a fun matchup featuring the best in the sport vs. the buzziest.


And both have similar styles that make it that much better.


“We’ve got a traditional old-school back to the basket post guy who can score,” NC State coach Kevin Keatts said last week of Burns. “Most teams don’t have that.”


Edey is a bucket-getter and bucket-hunter. He led college basketball in scoring this season and had more 2-point field goal attempts and 2-point field goal makes than anyone else. Burns’ game, while also old-school, is eerily similar to that of Nikola Jokic in that he loves to pass the ball and get his teammates going. When required to score, he can score — he had 29 vs. Duke in the Elite Eight — but he’s a pass-first lefty big who has 14 assists in his last four games. 


There aren’t many throwback centers in the modern game today but two of them will be on the court Saturday and facing off against each other. The most effective player in college basketball the last two seasons vs. the hottest player to emerge from the South Regional. Edey vs. Burns and Purdue vs. NC State. In their biggest respective games of the season, it’s only fitting that the biggest players on both teams will decide their fate. 





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