GLENDALE, Ariz. -- College basketball's biggest game of the season will be played Monday night inside State Farm Stadium. So, it's only fitting that on the sport's biggest stage with the biggest possible stakes, the head-to-head matchup between the two biggest players -- Zach Edey of Purdue and Donovan Clingan of UConn -- will likely determine which team cuts down the nets in the NCAA Tournament championship game.

Edey, a towering 7-foot-4, 300-pound center, has been as close to unstoppable as one can get in this year's NCAA Tournament. The two-time Naismith Player of the Year is averaging 28.0 points and 15.4 rebounds per game in carrying Purdue to its first championship game appearance since 1969. But Clingan, a 7-2, 280-pound center, has been nearly as impactful in his own right. The sophomore is averaging 16.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game for the reigning champion Huskies during the NCAA Tournament. 

In the process, both have improved their NBA Draft stock as much as anyone this postseason, with Clingan even playing his way into the conversation to be the No. 1 pick.

Big men with big games in a big game.

Tale of the Tape: Zach Edey vs. Donovan Clingan

Zach Edey
Donovan Clingan
7-4 Height7-2
300 Weight280
Senior YearSophomore
Toronto, Ontario HometownBristol, Connecticut
24.9 Points per game13.1
12.2 Rebounds per game7.4
62.5% Field Goal Percentage64.0%
2.2 Blocks per game2.5

Strategically speaking, Clingan vs. Edey is more than just big vs. big. There are subtle stylistic notes that differentiate one 7-footer from the other. 

Edey camps out in the paint and lives like he's magnetized to the rim on both ends of the floor. He's an old-school big who prefers playing with his back to the basket on offense and under, or at least very near, the basket on defense. Purdue has accentuated those strengths by building an elite 3-point shooting team around him and putting him primarily in heavy drop coverages to lessen the necessity of him defending on the perimeter. No switches. No heavy hedges. UConn knows as much.

"It's hard (pulling Edey out of the paint), he really just anchors in down there and protects the rim," Clingan said. "So we've just got to try to get the best shots as we can, attack down low and find open shooters." 

UConn coach Dan Hurley called the matchup with Edey a "unique" challenge against a "unique" player in a "unique" matchup.

"You may coach or play your whole career and never coach or play against someone of his stature," Hurley said. "Truly, a giant player."

Pulling Edey away from the painted area -- which Gonzaga tried to do in the Sweet 16 -- can only work so much in this particular matchup, though. Theoretically, that'd be UConn's best bet. But Clingan doesn't have the outside game to make Edey pay in pick-and-pop situations. He's taken seven 3-pointers all season. That plays into Edey's hand. Clingan loves to score it inside, and Edey likes to defend inside. Something has to give there.

Hurley is aware of as much and knows there may not be a one-size-fits-all solution to solving Edey -- or even a solution at all.

"I think there's a number of different things we're going to have to try to do and mix up and see what's effective," Hurley said. 

Alabama forward Grant Nelson, whose Tide were eliminated by the Huskies on Saturday, has -- to steal a word from Hurley -- a "unique" insight into how the matchup might play out Monday. Alabama and Nelson played Edey and Purdue earlier in the season and faced Clingan and UConn in the season finale.

"Yeah, I think they match up pretty well. They both draw a lot of fouls," Nelson said. "They're tough to play against as a team really. I mean, I think it will be a good matchup. Tough guarding both of them. If you put them up against each other, it's really just who is more physical, who can foul less."

Purdue faces a similar conundrum UConn does in efforting to exploit Clingan. Edey's at his best scoring in the paint, be it on post-ups or put-backs. That means Purdue can't pick-and-pop with Edey making Clingan pay a penance, either. 

"He is a great player," Edey said. "That's no surprise. Everyone kind of knows what type of player is on the defensive end, [and] offensively he is pretty good too."

Edey and Clingan know the spotlight is on them. Edey says he's embracing the moment and looking forward to trying to make Clingan "prove it." And UConn forward Alex Karaban says his big man is ready for the challenge that lies ahead. 

"(Clingan) gets super-excited," Karaban said. "He's always talking about how he wants to play the best. I know before the Kansas game against Hunter Dickinson, he was super-excited about that matchup just to know there's another elite center he gets to go up against. 

"He's super excited. He's ready to go."