Bet Purdue & Under With Your Tournament Picks vs. Arkansas-Little Rock

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 7:18 PM UTC

Tuesday, Mar. 15, 2016 7:18 PM UTC

Just about without fail, at least one No. 12 seed upsets a No. 5 in each  Big Dance. So No. 5 Purdue in on alert for its Midwest game vs. No. 12 Arkansas-Little Rock in Denver on Thursday. The Boilers are -8.5 on BetOnline with a total of 129 points.

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Trojans Win With Defense
Arkansas-Little Rock (29-4) was the Sun Belt regular-season champion at 17-3. The Trojans played just one Power 5 school during the year, losing 65-53 at Texas Tech (an NCAA Tournament team) on Dec. 22. UALR did have quality wins at San Diego State, the Mountain West regular-season champion, and Tulsa, which is an NCAA Tournament team.

UALR beat Louisiana Monroe 70-50 on Sunday in the Sun Belt Tournament final. The Trojans were down five at the half but dominated ULM to the tune of 42-17 after the break. Senior forward Roger Woods was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player after scoring 19 points and pulling down nine rebounds in the win. It is the program's second Sun Belt Tournament title all-time (2011 the other). UALR is in the Big Dance for a fifth time overall, the first since 2011. The school is 1-4 in the NCAAs, with that victory back in 1986.

The Trojans won just 13 games last year and their jump to 27 regular-season wins was the second biggest in Division I this season. They have set school records for overall wins (29), conference wins (17) and road wins (12) in a season. Only No. 1 overall seed Kansas has a better overall record. UALR's Chris Beard was named the Sun Belt Coach of the Year. Josh Hagins was first-team all-conference. He averages 12.8 points, 4.7 assists (both team  highs) and 4.1 rebounds.  

This is not a good offensive team, scoring just 71.0 points per game. But it's tremendous on defense in allowing only 59.9 points (No. 3 nationally). It's also an experienced bunch, with every starter an upperclassman. The Trojans are 19-10 against the spread on NCAA Tournament odds this season and 10-19 'over/under.'


Boilermakers Have Huge Frontcourt
Purdue (26-8) finished 12-6 in the Big Ten, good for a tie for third. Its only non-conference loss was to ranked Butler on Dec. 19. The Boilers had nice wins out of conference against Pittsburgh and Vanderbilt, both NCAA Tournament teams. Purdue beat Illinois and Michigan in its first two Big Ten Tournament game to reach that title matchup for the first time since 2009. But the Boilers were then beaten 66-62 by Michigan State.

Coach Matt Painter's team reached the NCAA Tournament last year as a No. 9 seed but lost 66-65 in overtime to No. 8 Cincinnati in the first round on a buzzer-beating layup. Purdue led by seven with 48.5 seconds left in regulation.

The Boilers have a really good and massive frontcourt, led by senior 7-foot center A.J. Hammons (14.9 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.4 bpg), sophomore 7-foot-2 center Isaac Haas (9.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg), sophomore small forward Vince Edwards (11.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and freshman power forward Caleb Swanigan (10.4 ppg, 8.2 rpg), who originally had committed to Michigan State.  Edwards made the All-Big Ten Tournament team by averaging 15.3 points and shooting 50 percent from the field.

This team has more size than almost any other NCAA Tournament school. A total of 41 percent of Purdue's points have come in the paint. The Boilers also have outrebounded every opponent but two and are 10th nationally on the boards. They are also a very good defensive team, ranking 25th nationally in scoring (64.5 points allowed) and 16th in field-goal percentage allowed.

Purdue and Little Rock have faced each other just once, a 102-88 Purdue victory on Nov. 20, 1987. The winner here faces either No. 4 Iowa State or No. 13 Iona on Saturday. The Boilermakers are 18-11-1 ATS on NCAA Tournament picks and 15-15 O/U.

The only chance UALR has is if its guards dominate Purdue's because the Trojans are going to get slaughtered down low. I'm not seeing it. I love the 'under' here and will give the points. UALR won't get out of the 50s.

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NCAA Basketball Picks: Purdue -9 & Over 130.5
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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