Pick Purdue to Run Over Untested Louisville

Purdue Boilermakers

Rainman M.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 2:47 PM GMT

Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017 2:47 PM GMT

Purdue (5-2) hosts No. 17 Louisville (4-0) Tuesday at 8 ET on ESPN. The Boilermakers are favored by 7, and they appear to be on course to run over the struggling Louisville basketball program.

Louisville Cardinals vs Purdue Boilermakers

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Free NCAAB Pick: Purdue -7Best Line Offered: at HeritageLouisville

Former assistant coach David Padgett is currently the head coach after the FBI's investigation of Rick Pitino.

Point guard Quentin Snider leads the Cardinals' backcourt. The senior's greatest asset is his ball-handling skills. He was second in the ACC in assist-to-turnover ratio and 8th in assists.

Shooting guard VJ King is coming off a mediocre freshman season in which he averaged 5 points per game. He'll need to be more productive to replace departed shooting guard Donovan Mitchell.

Small forward Deng Adel is looking to build off the end of last season in which he scored 16+ points in 5 of his last 6 games. He needs to finish more consistently at the rim.

In the backcourt, power forward Ray Spalding, with his 7'6 wingspan, and 7-foot center Anas Mahmoud, who averaged 2 blocks per game last season, can undermine an opponent's interior game.

Purdue

Matt Painter's Boilermakers return every starter besides the Big Ten Player of the Year, Forward Caleb Swanigan. The versatile Swanigan's 18 points and 12 rebounds per game and his ability both in the interior and from behind the arc are irreplaceable.

Senior point guard PJ Thompson leads the backcourt with his reliable ball-handling. He finished among national leaders, and broke the school record two seasons ago, with his assist-to-turnover ratio.

Carsen Edwards, like his counterpart King, is a sophomore, but is more experienced and more proven. He is a playmaker who accumulates steals and uses his quickness and ball-handling to be productive inside the arc.

Whereas none of Louisville's current starters shot 40% or better from three last season with more than 20 minutes played per game, Purdue has three: Thompson, shooting guard Dakota Mathias and small forward Vincent Edwards. Edwards also uses his 6'8 size to rebound effectively.

The 7-2 290 pounder Isaac Haas is Purdue's top post presence. Known for his size and physicality, he is working to improve his ball distribution and thereby help make up for Swanigan's absence.

The Verdict

Louisville played its first four games against weak, small-conference competition. The Cardinals' offense has relied primarily on quick baskets in transition. They rank 8th in average possession length because they have been accruing blocks and playing strong defense in the interior without fouling. Their half-court offense has yet to show up, though. They are 225th in A/FGM (assists per field goals made). Without much of a half-court offense, for instance, without King being able to make up for the departed Mitchell's lost production, Louisville's defense will be emphatically crucial to establishing its transition game.

Purdue's half-court offense has been strong, ranking 30th in A/FGM, and constitutes an effective weapon against Louisville's defense. The Boilermakers made up for anemic shooting in two losses against Tennessee and Western Kentucky by smashing Arizona with 89 points, shooting 50% from three and 57% field goal. They rank 12th behind the arc and 39th from two. Purdue has a variety of shooting options. Through Edwards, Thompson and Mathias they can be productive without having to challenge Louisville's interior defense, whose numbers are anyhow inflated by its soft competition.

But Purdue's transition game is also strong. The Boilermakers rank 13th in average possession length and 9th in effective field goal %. Their transition game is propelled by the strong blocking and interior defense led by their two seven-footers, Isaac Haas, who averages 1.3 blocks per game, and Matt Haarms, who averages 3 blocks per game. Overall, Purdue's defense ranks 29th in efficiency. That's why for my NCAAB pick I am going with Purdue.

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