Boiler Down! Texas Tech to Slow Purdue En Route to Elite Eight

Rainman M.

Monday, March 19, 2018 1:36 PM UTC

Monday, Mar. 19, 2018 1:36 PM UTC

Second-seeded Purdue is a small favorite to beat third-seeded Texas Tech on Friday and earn a spot in the Elite Eight. Are they a reliable wager without center Isaac Haas?

No. 2 Purdue vs. No. 3 Texas TechEast Region, Friday, 9:57 p.m. ET, BostonFree NCAAB Pick: Texas Tech +1.5Best Line Offered: Intertops

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They had to overcome an early stumble and survive some late excitement, but the Boilermakers escaped Butler without center Isaac Haas. They missed his presence on the free-throw line and inside during offensive possessions. With offensively challenged backup Matt Haarms down low, Butler was able to concentrate on stopping Purdue's other scoring threats. Defensively, Haarms was his usual, shot-blocking self and could corral enough energy to play a season-high 29 minutes. Against Texas Tech, Haas' absence will have bigger consequences on both sides of the ball.

Purdue (30-6 SU, 17-18-1 ATS) benefited from playing a Butler team that ranks outside the top 300 in drawing fouls. Texas Tech ranks 37th in the category. The Red Raiders are led by aggressive senior point guard Keenan Evans, who ranks 18th in the category. Haarms is the worst Purdue player in terms of committing fouls per minutes played. Before playing Butler, he had committed four fouls in two of Purdue's last three games despite playing 21 minutes max. Texas Tech (26-9 SU, 15-17-1 ATS) will punish Haarms for his aggressive defensive style and without Haarms -- or at least without a comfortable Haarms not in foul trouble -- Purdue lacks the interior presence on defense to challenge the Raiders inside. The Boilers already lack this presence on offense with Haarms, who has achieved double digits only three times all year.

The Raiders, led by Evans' 17.8 points per game, are dangerous inside, ranking in the top 100 in two-point percentage and point distribution from two and from free throws. Evans is the X-factor that can take over a game. In two tournament games he has produced 45 points, and in three of the last five games he has achieved a KenPom offensive rating of more than 130, which would rank him first nationally in the category. Evans has been hot despite facing high-pressure defenses. But Purdue's defense will give him an additional break here, ranking 222nd in turnover percentage.

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The Boilers are snowflakes. Their offense is extremely talented, no doubt, but it regularly gets stifled against tough defenses of comparable talent. Purdue is 0-5-1 ATS against teams ranked in the top 20 in KenPom defensive efficiency. Four of their six SU losses this season have come against such teams. Texas Tech ranks fourth in the category. The Raiders are the nation's 63rd-tallest team and use length to clog passing lanes and otherwise create deflections, and achieve turnovers, rebounds and blocks. Their defense ranks in the top 30 in turnover percentage and block percentage. As a team, they rank 52nd in rebounding margin, 32 spots higher than Purdue, whose top rebounder had been Haas. Unlike Purdue, they have superior depth, ranking 35th in bench minutes . They can rotate quality guys to stay fresh. The Raiders' defense sharpened throughout the year, especially on the perimeter. They boasted the Big 12's fifth-best perimeter defense, measured by proportion of attempted threes allowed, and the top half-court defense. This progress is significant against Purdue, which relies especially on three-pointers, ranking 97th in proportion of threes attempted.

The Raiders, small underdogs on the college basketball odds board, will advance behind a gamer such as Evans, who alone makes TT teaser-friendly because he will, at worst, give his team a chance to win. But the value, especially on defense, of a variety of players such as center Norense Odiase, who leads TT in defensive rebounding percentage, keeps TT fresher and therefore a tougher out in our NCAAB picks.

Check out SBR’s college basketball odds page for updated lines. Also, head over to the March Madness Betting Headquarters for vital handicapping information, picks, and a list of the best sports books and live betting options for the tournament season.

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