NCAA Basketball Spread: Purdue -2.5
Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin Badgers are in a very unfamiliar spot. The Badgers come into this key Big Ten battle having lost three straight games. Purdue is 3-1 in the Big Ten Conference. The Badgers still have hopes of winning the Big Ten, but they can’t afford to let the leaders in the conference get much farther in front. Expect an intense battle between two of the best defensive teams in the country Thursday night in West Lafayette.
Jordan Taylor is one of the best point guards in the nation. Taylor is the clear leader for this Badgers squad. He is leading the team in scoring at 13.6 per contest so far this year, but Taylor’s shooting percentage isn’t where it needs to be. He is hitting just 39.5% from the floor. As a team, Wisconsin is shooting just 43.6% from the floor despite getting some pretty good looks most of the time. Ben Brust and Josh Gasser are two guys that this team counts on to knock down the outside jumper. Jared Berggren and Mike Brusewitz aren’t flashy players inside, but they do a nice job in this system.
The strength of this Badgers team is clearly their defense. Wisconsin allows just 47.9 points per game so far this year, which is the best mark in the nation. Opponents are shooting a paltry 35% from the floor and 25% from beyond the arc. Ryan knows how to coach the defensive end, and he has a lot of players who have fully bought into his system. Don’t expect to see many easy buckets against this defense.
Robbie Hummel has missed the last two seasons with knee injuries, and it is terrific to see him back on the floor this year. Despite coming off two major injuries, Hummel is having another terrific year. He leads the team in scoring and rebounding. Hummel is a versatile player who can do just about everything very well. This team certainly misses Moore and Johnson from last year’s squad, but this is still a solid group. Ryne Smith has established himself as a very good outside shooter. Smith does a nice job stretching the defense. Lewis Jackson has become more aggressive on the offensive end this year, and his quickness is tough to defend.
Matt Painter is all about coaching defense, and you can tell that by watching this Purdue team. Jackson is a terrific on-the-ball pest, and he will make life difficult on Jordan Taylor in this game. The Boilermakers play very good team defense. This is a team that is quick to rotate and play great help side defense. Opponents are averaging just 61.3 points per game this season against Purdue. One weakness is on the defensive glass, where they don’t have a true bruiser in the post.
It’s tough to pick the Badgers to lose a fourth straight, but I think the Boilermakers are the better-rounded team right now.
Free College Basketball Pick: Purdue -2.5
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