NCAA Basketball Pick: Purdue Boilermakers at Nebraska Cornhuskers

LT Profits Sports Group

Sunday, February 23, 2014 5:00 AM UTC

Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014 5:00 AM UTC

The Nebraska Cornhuskers are trying to improve to 13-1 at home, which would be the best home mark in the Big Ten, when they host the Purdue Boilermakers Sunday.

You may be surprised to know which team could have the best home record in the Big Ten by the end of Sunday, but doing so may not be easy when the Purdue Boilermakers (15-11, 2-5 away) pay a visit to those Nebraska Cornhuskers (15-10, 12-1 home) at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, NE at 4:15 ET in a game televised nationally on Big Ten Network.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Purdue as a decided road underdog for this contest with the current line at +6 with odds of -113.

That’s right, it is the 15-10 Nebraska Cornhuskers and not one of the handful of ranked Big Ten teams that is currently 12-1 at home and would have the best record in the conference with another win today. Then again that 15-10 record is rather deceptive as eight of the Cornhuskers’ 10 losses have come vs. teams ranked in the Pomeroy Top 100 including six vs. the Top 25, and they enter this game on a roll having won four straight games.

This winning streak includes two road wins including a stunner at Michigan State last Sunday, and Nebraska is now up to 57th overall on Pomeroy so this is not a team without talent. However, Purdue did hand the Huskers one of their two losses vs. teams not in the Pomeroy Top 100 (Purdue is 101st) 70-64 back in Lafayette on January 12th. The Boilermakers won the rebounding battle that day and that is one area where Purdue may excel again today.

Nebraska is just one point away from being undefeated at home as its only loss in Lincoln was by just a 71-70 score vs. Michigan. What makes that record even more surprising is that the Cornhuskers are not really a good offensive team. Nebraska is ranked just 226th in the country in effective field goal percentage at 48.4 percent, hitting on only 46.8 percent of its two-point attempts and 34.4 percent of its three-pointers.

Furthermore, the Huskers are a poor offensive rebounding team, ranking a pathetic 306th in that category at a mere 26.8 percent compared to the national average of 31.5 percent.

So how does Nebraska win games? Well, much of that has to do with tempo as the Cornhuskers are methodical ranking just 185th in the land in tempo rating. Thus, the Cornhuskers have been able to shorten games vs. teams that may have more talent. Nebraska also ranks 40th in defensive efficiency rating, but that may be an offshoot of playing at a slow pace as it is very average in the components that make up that number.

Now, Purdue is just trying not to finish with a losing record, and a win here would go a long way toward accomplishing that goal. You see, the Boilermakers follow up this contest with three straight tough games vs. Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin with the latter two games being on the road. Since Purdue is coming off of a loss vs. Michigan State, it may need to win here to avoid a five-game losing streak and a 15-15 record entering its final game vs. Northwestern.

So the Boilers can be expected to bring their best effort today, but will that be enough for the victory? Well, like Nebraska, Purdue is another poor-shooting team that is ranked 247th in effective field goal percentage at 47.9 percent, but the difference is that the Boilermakers are an excellent offensive rebounding team ranked 32nd in the entire country in that department at 36.9 percent.

Besides leading to some easy points off of put-backs, another advantage of grabbing so many offensive boards is that Purdue can also extend its possessions, thus not allowing Nebraska to control the pace of this game as is the Cornhuskers’ wont, especially when playing here at home.

Whether or not that will be enough to pull an upset is debatable, but that advantage on the offensive glass should at least allow Purdue to hang close throughout and get the cover on Sunday.


NCAA Basketball Pick: Purdue +6 (-113)

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