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Purdue

vs.

Michigan State

College Basketball

Pick

2/10/18

The Big Ten regular season title may come down to this game and it may not. Even if Purdue loses, Ohio State is still one game above both of them. Either way, both teams are in need of another quality win to impress the NCAA committee come tournament time. Due to a down year for the Big Ten, not many opponents can be considered quality, which makes this one really important.

It makes the most sense to go with Purdue in this game even on the road. The Boilers have coasted through conference play for a reason (before Wednesday against Ohio State) and rank near the top on both offense and defense. They’ve had some trouble on the road winning at Rutgers and Indiana, but also ripped Iowa and Minnesota to shreds, among others.

As for the Spartans, nothing has come all that easy for them outside of a couple home wins against Maryland and Indiana. This is still a team that was handled by Michigan in East Lansing and also down against Penn State at halftime. Even with only three losses, they’ve struggled to put an entire game together and have walked away with sketchy road wins most recently at Indiana and Iowa.

This game will be extremely intriguing in terms of matchups and how these teams tend to play. Purdue leads the conference in offensive efficient FG%, but Michigan State leads on the defensive side. The question is if the Boilers can rebound their misses, although that clearly hasn’t been a problem yet. On the other end, the Spartans turn the ball over a lot, but that’s not something Purdue lives off of and while Purdue ranks second in terms of defensive efficiency, is mediocre defending the three at 34 percent. MSU draws the most fouls in the Big Ten, but Purdue fouls the least.

Whenever playing Purdue, the main worry is dealing with Isaac Haas because he’s so big. Not many in the country can limit the big man and that’s when double teams come, which in turn leads to open looks on the perimeter. The Boilermakers are flush with efficient shooters from Carsen Edwards and PJ Thompson to Vincent Edwards and even Ryan Cline off the bench. The Spartans will have to decide how they want to defend Haas. Nick Ward has the body, but he gives up a few inches. Jaren Jackson has the length, but he gives up muscle and pounds.

On the other end, Michigan State needs to attack Haas as much as possible and try to get him into foul trouble. Ward is one of the best in the country at drawing fouls and he’s the key piece to doing that. There’s also an interesting matchup of Jackson against Vincent Edwards. Jackson’s length could be a real issue for Edwards. That said, both Ward and Jackson have dealt with foul trouble in almost every game and if that happens against Haas, it could be a long day for the home team. But still, Michigan State has the depth to go at Haas with Gavin Schilling and Xavier Tillman off the bench.

All this said, maybe the most important thing for MSU’s offense is that Miles Bridges goes into attack mode against Dakota Mathias. If he’s complacent to pass the ball on the perimeter, the Spartans will be at a disadvantage. The same theory applies to Cassius Winston because MSU needs him on the court for the offense to work.

Based on how these teams have played the last month, Purdue is the more reasonable team to back. That said, the Spartans are at home and have the depth and roster balance to matchup with Purdue more than any other team in the conference. The Boilermakers could get more money, but this game will likely be decided in the final couple minutes.

Our Pick - Michigan St -3

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