3/21/19 NCAA Tournament, Old Dominion, Coach Matt Painter

Purdue head coach Matt Painter pleads with an official during Purdue's 61-48 opening round victory over Old Dominion on Thursday night. 

Purdue and Villanova are without a doubt two of college basketball's most consistently successful programs. The results speak for themselves.

Villanova has qualified for seven consecutive NCAA Tournaments, while Purdue has qualified for five straight. Since 2007, Villanova has qualified for 12 and Purdue has qualified for 11.

The programs will meet Saturday night in the Round of 32 for a ticket to the Sweet 16 in the South Region of the NCAA Tournament.  

If Purdue wins the matchup, it will join Villanova as one of the only seven schools nationally to win 25 games or more each of the last four seasons.

The two constants for these two programs over their runs of recent success: Purdue head coach Matt Painter and Villanova head coach Jay Wright.

Since taking over their respective programs, the coaches have combined for 10 Sweet 16 appearances, four Elite Eight appearances, three Final Four appearances, and two National Championships.

Consistent success like that is what has elevated Painter and Wright to their respective statuses of two of the most well-respected coaches in the nation. In addition, Purdue and Villanova have become two regular national contenders during their impressive tenures on the sidelines.

For the two men, the respect is clearly mutual.

"He's handled everything, and every year you just know (Purdue) is going to be well-coached, disciplined," Wright said on Painter. "They're going to execute and they're going to compete for championships every year. It's really impressive. And greatness is sustained excellence, right? That's what he's done."

Seemingly the only thing eluding Painter is a Final Four appearance. After being hired at Villanova in 2001, it took Wright eight years to take the Wildcats to a Final Four, which he did in 2009. Seven years later in 2016, he won his first national championship, a feat he helped Villanova repeat last season while cementing his place as a legendary coach in college basketball history.

Since taking over for legendary Boilermaker coach Gene Keady in 2005, Painter knew he had big shoes to fill. He has delivered consistently, despite still searching for his first Final Four appearance and a national championship. 

"I think people that don't win the National Championship, I think they do get over the hump. It is pretty difficult," Painter said. "You can't just call one team a successful team and the rest of us are failures. It's very difficult. It's very competitive. It's a hard thing to do."

Since 2005, Painter has helped Purdue win 25 or more games in seven different seasons, and is going for his eighth this season. He has also helped the Boilers reach four Sweet 16s and is going for his fifth if the Boilers manage a win over Villanova.

During Painter's tenure, Purdue has experienced the Baby Boilers era from 2008 to 2011, led by a core of E'Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson and Robbie Hummel. After a few down years, strong recruiting has brought Purdue back to being a threatening program, lead by stars such as Caleb Swanigan, Vincent Edwards, and now, Carsen Edwards.

Wright has recruited no shortage of standout players either during his 18-year tenure. Players such as current NBA star Kyle Lowry, Scottie Reynolds, Dante Cunningham, Jalen Brunson, and Donte DiVincenzo have starred for the Wildcats in recent seasons.

"Well, obviously, they've done a very good job of finding their guys and developing those guys," Painter said on Villanova. "So you can kind of see the evolution of their program from one year to the next and how it continues. And they've had guys leave early, but they've also had older guys. They've had a very good balance."

Villanova's ability to stay relevant this season after losing seven players to graduation or the NBA in an ever-competitive college basketball landscape speaks volumes to Wright's coaching ability.

In a similar fashion, Painter has done one of his best ever coaching jobs this season after losing four seniors and inserting four brand new starters into his lineup.

"I just saw (Painter) in the hallway. That's exactly what I said to him," Wright said on Friday afternoon. "I said 'I'm so happy for you to have a season like this and impressed.' It's amazing, it really is."

Historically, the two coaches have met twice in non-conference play during their time coaching, but neither meeting had stakes as high as Saturday night's.

Villanova narrowly won both meetings at Mackey Arena, which is not an easy feat, considering that the Boilers have won 17 consecutive games on their home floor.

The first meeting came in 2012, when the Wildcats beat Purdue 89-81 in overtime. Then in 2016, Villanova eked out a 79-76 victory, a game in which two current players logged minutes.

Those players were Purdue junior guard Carsen Edwards, who missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer, and Villanova senior guard Phil Booth.

This year's edition has a great chance to come down to the wire again, since the two teams are lead by their standout coaches, who will be prepared for every scenario that may play out on Saturday night.

Purdue and Villanova tip off in the Round of 32 at 8:40 p.m. tonight at the XL Center in Hartford. The game will be broadcast on TNT.  

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