Pick – Analysis
It’s odd to say but this may be the most important Game of the regular season for Ohio State. Having lost Four in a row, the Buckeyes follow this Game with road trips to Nebraska and Michigan, so if they lose to Purdue, it could be seven straight losses. This Game isn’t as important for Purdue coming off three wins, one of those on the road at Wisconsin.
The Boilermakers may be playing better, but this is still a team that struggled on the road prior to beating Wisconsin in overtime. They lost big to Michigan State and Michigan, but also on neutral cOurts to Notre Dame and Florida State, two teams not much different than OSU. Of course, recent performance has to be taken into account because nothing is working for the Bucks. They fell in back-to-back road Games to Rutgers and Iowa and most recently by 14 points at home to Maryland.
To help the Buckeyes, the matchups are fairly even between these teams. OSU’s biggest weakness defensively is fouling and no one on Purdue draws fouls outside of Carsen Edwards. Otherwise, OSU’s defense should matchup well with Purdue’s one-man band. On the other end, Purdue’s defense has struggled to defend the three and doesn’t do anything overly well, which should help OSU’s inconsistent group.
To win Games, the Buckeyes need more offensively out of their role players. Kaleb Wesson (15.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg) has had some big Games, but he also has attempted just 12 shots and has 13 points total in the last two Games. It’s a different issue with second-leading scorer C.J. Jackson (13.1 ppg) in that he’s inefficient, shooting barely over 40 percent from the field. Otherwise, it’s a mystery as to who can Scorewith five guys averaging between 7.3 and 9.1 points per Game. That inconsistency has resulted in three-straight Games with no more than 62 points and if that continues to happen, it’s hard to see them taking down Purdue. To have a chance, Wesson will need to find success against Matt Haarms and Trevion Williams, while Jackson has to create against a bigger Nojel Eastern, who is likely to defend him.
The difference with the Boilermakers is that Edwards (24.6 ppg) is almost a guarantee to Score20 points every night. While no one else averages more than 12.3 points per Game, you know Ryan Cline will make a couple threes each Game and big man Trevion Williams has become a force averaging 11.5 points and 10 boards over the last Four Games. His size is going to be an issue for Wesson and that’s a guy that can’t get into foul trouble for OSU. The goal for Ohio State will be to limit easy looks from Edwards and multiple players will likely try to stop him from Jackson, LUther Muhammad and Keyshawn Woods. If that doesn’t work and Edwards can do what he wants against a team that doesn’t have a rim protector, this could be another loss for the home team.
Something has to change for the Buckeyes to win this Game and the best reason to bet on them may be because it’s almost a must-win situation. Purdue is feeling good about itself and could be more focused at upending Michigan State at home on Sunday.
Our Pick – Purdue -1