Friday March 16 7:27 p.m. EST on truTV
NCAA Basketball Spread: Purdue -1
In the NCAA Tournament, the 7/10 matchups are usually great games to watch. The Purdue Boilermakers played in a difficult Big Ten Conference, and they should be battle tested and ready to go. St. Mary’s finally ended Gonzaga’s domination of the West Coast Conference. The Gaels also won the WCC Tournament Championship. The oddsmakers actually have the tenth seed as the small favorite. This should be a great game.
Purdue lost a ton of talent at the end of last season. Both JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore are now in the NBA. Expectations weren’t too high for this year’s team, but they have improved as the season has gone along. Robbie Hummel is back for another year, and it has been great to see him put together a terrific senior season. Hummel missed two seasons with knee injuries. He isn’t quite the player used to be, but he is still very good. Hummel leads the team in scoring and rebounding. He averages 16.3 points and 7.1 boards per contest. Ryne Smith and D.J. Byrd are both very good three-point shooters. Smith shoots 44% from long range and Byrd knocks down 43%. As a team the Boilermakers shoot 38% from beyond the arc.
Lewis Jackson and Terone Johnson are solid in the backcourt. Jackson is a great distributor who takes care of the basketball. Johnson is a scorer who can get to the rim. Purdue does lack an inside presence, and that could keep them from moving too far in the NCAA Tournament. Defensively, Matt Painter’s team is pretty good. Opponents score only 66 points per game on this team.
St. Mary’s had an extremely successful season. Despite battling quite a few injuries this team was able to go 27-5 in a tough conference. Matthew Dellavedova is one of the best point guards in the nation. He is a very good shooter, but he also leads the team with 204 assists. Rob Jones is a senior bruiser down low for the Gaels. He averages 14.8 points and 10.7 rebounds. The Gaels need Jones to have a big game since Purdue lacks a premier post player. St. Mary’s is a very good rebounding team. Everyone on this team can rebound, which makes them a tough team to handle. As a team the Gaels shoot 47.5% from the floor. This is a team that plays smart basketball.
St. Mary’s guard Stephen Holt is a key part of this team, and he is listed as questionable for this game due to a sprained knee. Holt hasn’t played in a game since February 15. Holt is the team leader in steals, and he could really help slow down the Boilermakers guards’ penetration. St. Mary’s allows only 62.4 points per game.
This should be a close one all the way. If the Gaels were at full strength I might lean the other way, but I think Purdue’s tough schedule prepared them very well for this game.
Free College Basketball Pick: Purdue -1
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