Sweet 16: Duke Blue Devils (31-5 SU, 20-14-1 ATS) vs. Purdue Boilermakers (29-5 SU, 14-18-2 ATS), 9:57 p.m. EST, Friday, March 26, 2010, Reliant Stadium, Houston, Tex. TV: CBS
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Duke -8/Purdue +8
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As soon as Robbie Hummel went down with a season-ending injury, everyone began to doubt Purdue. Even though the Boilermakers proceeded to win four of their next six games, everyone assumed the Boilermakers were done. When they got blown out by Minnesota in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament, even more people doubted them. They went from a possible No. 1 seed to a No. 4 seed and many believed they would lose to No. 13 seed Siena in the first round of the NCAA tournament. But the Boilermakers won that game and then won over No. 5 seed Texas A&M in the second round. Now, they have a shot to knock off No. 1 seed Duke in the Sweet 16.
Duke finished the season strong by winning the ACC tournament and getting rewarded with a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. In the first round, the Blue Devils rolled over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 73-44. Then, they won rather easily over California in the second round, 68-53.
In the win over Cal, the Blue Devils shot 47 percent from the field but just 3-of-17 from 3-point range. Cal shot 40 percent from the field and 3-for-12 on 3-pointers. Duke outrebounded Cal by five and committed only five turnovers while forcing 10 of them. Nolan Smith led the way with 20 points, Kyle Singler added 17 points, and Brian Zoubek had 14 points and 13 rebounds. Zoubek shot a perfect 6-for-6 from the field. Jon Scheyer struggled with just seven points on 1-for-11 shooting. Scheyer and Singler combined to shoot 2-for-14 on 3-pointers.
Purdue won its second round NCAA tournament game 63-61 over Texas A&M in overtime. Chris Kramer made a layup with 4.2 seconds left in overtime to give the Boilermakers the victory. Kramer led them with 17 points, E’Twaun Moore scored 15 points, and JaJuan Johnson had 11 points. The Boilermakers got outrebounded by 10 and only got to the free throw line six times, but they won the game with defense. They shot 41 percent from the field and 6-for-17 from 3-point range, nothing too spectacular at all, but they held Texas A&M to 35 percent shooting from the field and 5-for-17 from 3-point range.
Both of these teams take good care of the basketball, only averaging 11 turnovers per game. Purdue forces one more turnover per game than Duke does, at 15.7 for Purdue and 14.7 for Duke. Duke is outrebounding opponents this season by almost six boards per game, while Purdue gets outrebounded by two boards per game. That is one area where Purdue could be in trouble against Duke. Duke shoots 38 percent on 3-pointers and holds opponents to 28 percent, while Purdue shoots 32 percent on 3-pointers and allows opponents to shoot 35 percent. Both teams are just about even in field goal percentage offense and defense, as both are shooting over 44 percent from the field and holding their opponents to about 40 percent.
Purdue has the slight edge in experience at 1.98 years of experience per minute as compared to Duke’s 1.86 years of experience per minute. Duke has 12 road/neutral wins this season, while Purdue has 11.
Without Hummel, Purdue has to shell out a rather small lineup most of the time. The Boilermakers will have to figure out how to defend Singler, Thomas and Zoubek down low with Johnson being the only player likely on the court who will be similar in size to any of those three players. First of all, Johnson has to stay out of foul trouble or Purdue is in a lot of trouble. But Purdue could have problems if Duke is able to pound the ball inside and drive to the basket. If the Boilermakers can force Duke to shoot a lot of 3-pointers, then they have a good chance to win the game.
Purdue is 4-1 ATS in its last five games as an underdog, 7-3 ATS in its last 10 NCAA tournament games as an underdog, 6-13-1 ATS in its last 20 games following an ATS win, 2-5 ATS in its last seven games against the ACC, and 2-6-1 ATS in its last nine games overall. Duke is 5-2 ATS in its last seven games against the Big Ten and 4-11 ATS in its last 15 NCAA tournament games as a favorite.
Ryno’s Pick: I think the most likely result here is that Duke wins the game straight up but Purdue stays within the pointspread for a cover.