Purdue Still Reliable as Big Favorites at Indiana

Rainman M.

Sunday, January 28, 2018 4:12 PM UTC

Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018 4:12 PM UTC

No. 3 Purdue (20-2) travels to in-state rival Indiana (12-9) at 3:30 ET. The Boilermakers are favored by 11 points. Should bettors regard the large spread with skepticism? 

Purdue Boilermakers at Indiana Hoosiers Free NCAAB Pick: Purdue -9Best Line Offered: Pinnacle

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Juggernaut Purdue boasts four players who average over twelve points per game and five players who average more than ten minutes per game and complete more than 40% of their threes. Purdue ranks 58th in experience and is an improved version of itself from last year.

Point guard Carsen Edwards is Purdue's most frequent shot-taker and also the most balanced. He ranks in the top 500 in both two-point and three-point completion percentage. Edwards is coming off an off-day against Michigan. But this season, whenever he has struggled offensively in one game, he has always come back with a solid performance in the next.

Power forward Vincent Edwards and guards PJ Thompson and Dakota Mathias rank in the top 100 in three-point completion percentage. They are the biggest reason why Purdue ranks no. 1 in three-point completion percentage. See a sample of their damage at Iowa on January 20th: where Purdue achieved a school-record twenty three-pointers.

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Center Isaac Haas is developing into a more efficient scorer inside. He completes over 60% inside the arc. Haas is coming off a 24-point performance against Michigan, in which he bullied Michigan's interior defense. He gets to face even less size in Indiana.

Indiana is especially dependent on center Juwan Morgan, who leads the team with 16 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. He's the only Hoosier ranked in the top-500 in either two-point or three-point completion. He is coming off back-to-back 20+-point performances. In two different two-game stretches he has averaged 20+ points. In the game following one of those stretches, he scored 14 points in an embarrassing home loss vs Fort Wayne, in the other game following the other stretch he only managed 8 points. He'll try to discover more consistency against Purdue.

Shooting guard Robert Johnson is the other Hoosier who averages double figures. Johnson is a very balanced shooter who attempts about half his shots inside and outside the arc. His worst games, though, have tended to come against perimeter defenses about as highly-ranked as Purdue's, such as Louisville and Seton Hall. He'll struggle to get good looks from behind the arc against Purdue and his effectiveness will consequently be limited.

The Verdict

Purdue is a reliable big favorite of our NCAAB picks, having covered its last three road games when favored by seven or more. They enjoyed similar success last season when they achieved a 6-2 ATS record since January when favored by 7+. Purdue is used to the role of big favorite and tends to thrive in it.

The key will be behind the arc. Indiana ranks outside the top 300 in three-point completion percentage and three-point completion allowed. Purdue is the top three-point shooting team by percentage. A team can only influence its completion percentage allowed so much because nobody can control what a shot does when it's in the air. But the fact that Indiana also allows the 221st-highest proportion of threes allowed tells me that they are very poor at guarding the perimeter and allow a lot of easy threes. Purdue is the best team for bettors to rely on against a weak perimeter defense. Furthermore, led by Haas, Purdue has a decisive size advantage inside. Haas, who ranks 115th in block percentage, is also a major reason why Purdue ranks fifth in two-point completion percentage allowed, indicating that he can limit Morgan, Indiana's top offensive weapon.

Purdue will be too much for Indiana both inside and outside the arc and on both sides of the ball.

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