Michigan State has been one of the most profitable teams to back, covering in its last nine, all nine of its Big Ten Games and 16-4 ATS for the season. That record is untouched by most in the country with Purdue at 11-8 ATS and a 6-3 mark at home. When these teams met a few weeks ago in East LAnsing, MSU led by around 10 points most of the way and then pulled away late 77-59 so that huge score is somewhat misleading.
The biggest thing from that matchup was the ineffectiveness of Carsen Edwards, who shot just 3-of-16 from the floor for 11 points with 13 of those shots coming from behind the arc. He was contained and the Boilermakers don’t have anyone else that’s going to drop 20 points in a Game so it was trouble. The other issue was that Matt Haarms was continually in foul trouble and played just 10 minutes. Those are two things that should change in this Game that should give the home team a better chance. It also helps that Purdue is at home where it has yet to lose and smoked the rest of competition, beating Iowa by 16 points and Indiana by 15.
Many thought the Spartans would lose at Nebraska or Iowa in recent Games, but according to the numbers, this is harder than both of those matchups. There are a couple outliers in the numbers that will favor both teams. Purdue’s defense is best in the Conference at forcing turnovers, but it also allows a lot of easy looks and is one of the worst in the Big Ten at stopping the three (38.3%). Throw in poor defensive rebounding numbers and those are two areas that MSU can thrive. In fact, while the Spartans turned it over 14 times in the first meeting, they also made nine threes and grabbed 18 offensive boards. On the other end nothing truly stands out because both rank second in the Conference in terms of efficiency.
The Spartans will likely be without Kyle Ahrens in this Game after he played 25 minutes in the first meeting, though scored only Four points and missed all five of his threes. He’ll be replaced by a more athletic and maybe better defender in Aaron Henry, who has seen his numbers jump the last couple weeks. It’ll be up to Henry and Matt McQuaid to limit what Edwards can do. If Edwards produces his usual 24.7 points per Game, the Boilers should be in business. Trevion Williams has become a relevant player for Purdue down low, but his coming out party was the MSU loss when he had 13 points and 12 boards. To win, the Boilers need Haarms to be more of a factor defensively, but also Nojel Eastern to do a little more offensively. Otherwise, it’s a question of where the offense will come because while Ryan Cline is the second leading scorer at 12.4 points per Game, he rarely surpasses 15 points. And to beat Michigan State, you need more than one player to be effective, and that’s assuming Edwards has a better Game.
The other thing Purdue has to do is defend a little better. The Spartans scored 1.20 points per possession in the first Game and that was even with Eastern guarding Cassius Winston, who had 23 points, six boards and five assists. It’ll be important for Williams and Haarms to hold their ground against Nick Ward, Kenny Goins and Xavier Tillman down low, while also limiting easy looks from McQuaid and Henry.
Purdue is a better team at home and will have a great chance to upend Michigan State in this spot. The Spartans are coming off a tough trip to Iowa on Thursday and Winston is dealing with a bit of knee soreness. If Edwards returns to normal and Cline and Williams can both do what they did last Game, the Boilers will be in business.
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