As it gets closer to March, things get more interesting by the day in college basketball. Purdue is inching closer to the Big Ten regular season title, but this Game against Ohio State and then a trip to Michigan State stand in its way. Neither one of these teams is dominating like earlier in the season, but still only have one combined loss in Conference play.
The Boilermakers have won 19 straight, but their last Four haven’t been nearly as dominant as some blowouts earlier in the season. The same goes for the Buckeyes, which haven’t played a true road Game since a trip to Northwestern in min-January and even then that’s barely a true road Game. In fact, the Bucks have played just Four true road Games all season with none of them coming against expected Tournament teams. Needless to say, this is going to be their hardest Game of the season.
Purdue has a great home cOurt advantage and that’s the first edge it gets in this Game. In terms of the matchup, it’s going to be a battle of two teams that have coasted through most of the Big Ten. Purdue has the most efficient offense in the Conference by far and shots greater than 44 percent from deep, while OSU has the most efficient defense, although is mediocre allowing 34 percent from three-point land. That three-point defense could be a major problem for the Bucks, especially if Kam Williams remains suspended. Williams, a senior starter, was suspended indefinitely ahead of Sunday’s win against Illinois.
On the other end, Ohio State has a slim edge offensively and rank second in the Conference in terms of efficiency and that’s led by a 57.6% rate from two pointers. Purdue’s biggest flaw is its lack of rebounding and it’s one of the worst in the Conference in defensive rebounding.
With Williams out, it’ll be hard to give Ohio State the edge in matchups because it’s not a deep team as it is. Andre Wesson started in place of Williams last Game and he averages just 16 minutes per Game. The first matchup to watch is Isaac Haas against Kaleb Wesson and whoever else. The Buckeyes will likely double team Haas as much as possible because while Wesson is a big guy, he’s still giving up pounds and five inches to Haas. Once those double teams come, that opens up shots for everyone on Purdue, which has been the case all season.
The Boilers have five guys that shoot it better than 39.5% from deep with Carsen Edwards and Dakota Mathias the main threats. Vincent Edwards can shoot as well, but is more of a slasher and will be going against a similarly built player in Keita Bates-Diop. Edwards may have the quickness to get to the hoop offensively, but he also gives up some size and will have trouble dealing with Bates-Diop on the other end. Purdue can also match up perfectly with Jae’Sean Tate, which not many teams can do. Tate is only 6-4, but he plays much bigger and can usually Scoredown low against any defender. That said, Mathias may not be tasked with him because OSU added Andre Wesson into the lineup, which pushes Tate to shooting guard.
If that’s the case, Ohio State will have a massive advantage with Tate against Carsen Edwards or PJ Thompson. That’s going to be the main way the Buckeyes stay competitive and if Tate can’t get going, there’s almost no chance for the upset.
The Bucks lack depth and playing at MACkey Arena isn’t going to help that. Per usual, Purdue will use Haas as much as possible down low and find open shooters on the perimeter. If the Boilers continue to make shots, that’ll be enough.
Our Pick – Ohio St +9.5