NCAA Basketball Spread: Purdue -4.5
The Michigan Wolverines have revived their basketball program under the leadership of John Beilein. Michigan has cracked the top 25 this year. Still, the team has one major flaw; they have yet to win a game on the road this season. Purdue has lost three of their last five games, so the Boilermakers need to get back on the right path. Mackey Arena is a tough place for visitors and Purdue will look to feed off the crowd in this key Big Ten game.
Michigan lost a key play maker in point guard Darius Morris from last year’s squad, but Trey Burke has stepped in and done a brilliant job as a freshman sensation for this team. Burke is a 5’11 point guard from Columbus, Ohio. He has racked up 98 assists against just 51 turnovers so far this season. Tim Hardaway Jr. is the team’s leading scorer at 15 points per game. Michigan relies heavily on the three-point shot offensively. In fact, just over 44% of Michigan’s shots come from beyond the arc. Evan Smotrycz shoots 43% from three-point range, and Zack Novak is knocking down 41%. Novak is the emotional leader of this Michigan team.
Defensively, Michigan allows just 60.8 points per game. The Wolverines are a much improved team on the defensive glass this season. This is not an aggressive defense, but rather a defense that knows its assignments well and doesn’t allow many open looks. They’ll need to contain Robbie Hummel in this one if they hope to pull off the upset in West Lafayette.
Purdue lost a ton of talent from last year’s team, but Boilermaker fans are thrilled to have Robbie Hummel back on the court. Hummel has missed each of the last two years with a torn ACL, but he is contributing very nicely this year. Hummel is Purdue’s leading scorer and rebounder this year. He is averaging 15.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per contest. One concern is that his shooting percentage has dropped to 39% from the floor, as opposed to the mid 40’s he has averaged throughout his career. Ryne Smith has emerged as the Boilers primary long distance shooter. Smith is connecting on 43% of his three-point attempts. Purdue lacks a true post presence this year, so the team relies heavily on guys like Lewis Jackson and Kelsey Barlow to help Hummel in the scoring department.
The key to this Purdue team’s success is their half court defense. Matt Painter’s teams typically play great defense, but this squad has been a little inconsistent defensively. Purdue has allowed 75 points or more four times already this year. The Boilermakers have definitely been better on the defensive end at home. Purdue has given up just 55 points per game on their home floor.
Both of these teams are more comfortable playing a half court type of game. Look for the defenses to control this one.
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