Purdue Too Strong For Wisconsin, Even on the Road

Doug Upstone

Thursday, February 15, 2018 2:52 PM UTC

Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018 2:52 PM UTC

Purdue's 19-game winning streak ended with a thud last week. The Boilermakers lost against both fellow Big Ten title contenders Ohio State and Michigan State and has to regroup starting tonight.

Purdue Boilermakers vs Wisconsin Badgers

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Free Basketball Pick: PurdueBest Line Offered: at Heritage

Because then No.3 Purdue played such stiff competition and lost both games in the final minute, they did not fall far in the polls and are ranked either No.6 or No.7 this week. Normally, any Big Ten team would dread a trip to Madison, but this is the poorest Wisconsin team in years at 11-16 (10-16 ATS). Unless the Badgers finish with a flourish, they might not even make a minor postseason tournament this season with such a poor record.

Looking at the opening college basketball odds, Purdue was released as nine-point away favorite. Do the Boilers come in boiling mad off two defeats or does their pedestrian play continue? This will be the first game on ESPN starting at 7:00 Eastern.

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Purdue's Defensive Intensity Has Waned

For handicappers and Big Ten aficionados, you could Purdue's winning streak was going to end. Prior to Ohio State loss in which the Boilermakers (23-4, 15-11 ATS) were a 10-point favorite, they had won previous four games and not covered one of them. Maybe it was the pressure of long streak or the belief they just could not lose, whatever it was coach Matt Painter's team had lost their edge.

This was especially true on defense, as Purdue permitted 49 percent shooting accuracy by their opponents compared to 40.1 percent for the season. The quality of competition played a part, however, the perimeter defense was being beaten off the dribble and the help defense was too slow to react.

On offense, the ball has stalled more, which has led to less crisp passing for a team averaging 82.5 points a game on 49.6 percent shooting. If the Boilers return to their previous form, they should leave the Badger State with a 10-3 (8-5 ATS) away record.

Wisconsin Lacks Firepower

It was an accepted fact Wisconsin was going to take a step back coming into the season. Too much talent had moved on and replenishing that amount was going to take time. Then, the Badgers lost top freshman Kobe King for the season just 10 games in and next 7'0 junior Andy Van Vliet also gone.

That meant the only known quantity for coach Greg Gard was junior big man Ethan Happ (18.2 PPG). Wisconsin lacks scoring options and plays very slow. This has led to them scoring 67.6 PPG at a 45.3 shooting clip. There three-point shooting percentage of 34 percent is nothing to get excited about, which is true of the team as a whole. Madison locals are not used to seeing their team having a 9-6 home record (6-8 ATS).

Big Ten Thursday Night Spread Winner

There should not be any lack of motivation for both teams. Purdue's situation has been explained and Wisconsin was blasted 75-50 at West Lafayette last month. Nevertheless, for college basketball picks, the stakes are higher for the Boilermakers who 10-2 ATS after failing to cover two of their last three games against the spread and they win by 12.

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