Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Purdue Boilermakers Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Minnesota Golden Gophers (11-3 SU, 8-5 ATS) vs. Purdue Boilermakers (13-0 SU, 6-6-1 ATS), 7:00 p.m. EST, Tuesday, January 5, 2009, Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, Ind. TV: ESPN
by Ryno of Predictem.com

Point Spread: Minnesota +7.5/Purdue -7.5
Over/Under: 138.5

Purdue assured any doubters that didn’t believe the Boilermakers were legit Final Four contenders with a win over West Virginia on Friday to improve to 13-0. Now, they have to continue their strong play in the Big Ten as they host the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Minnesota is off to a strong start in Big Ten play at 2-0 with wins over Penn State and Iowa. After a three-game losing streak early in the season, the Golden Gophers have won seven in a row, although none of those wins have come over superb competition. The only quality win they picked up in non-conference play was a neutral court win over Butler.

The Gophers are shooting well in conference play. In a 75-70 win over Penn State, they shot 49 percent from the field. Lawrence Westbrook led the way with 29 points. In an 86-74 win at Iowa, they shot 50 percent from the field and made eight 3-pointers for the second game in a row. Westbrook only had nine points in that game but Blake Hoffarber stepped up to lead the Gophers with 24 points, including five 3-pointers.

Purdue started conference play last Tuesday with a 67-56 win at Iowa. E’Twaun Moore (21 points, seven rebounds) and Robbie Hummel (16 points, eight rebounds) combined for 37 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Boilermakers, who shot 49 percent from the field and had only seven turnovers. Then, the Boilermakers earned an emphatic 77-62 win over West Virginia. Purdue center JaJuan Johnson dominated down low with 25 points and 10 boards. Hummel had 18 points and Moore added 15. The Boilermakers shot 50 percent from the field and again committed only seven turnovers.

Both of these teams have a very strong turnover margin. Minnesota (+6.6) is forcing 19.3 turnovers and turning it over 12.7 times per game, while Purdue (+7.6) is forcing 18.8 turnovers and committing only 11.2 per game. Minnesota has been shooting very well from 3-point range this season at 39.2 percent. The Boilermakers are vulnerable in that department, allowing opponents to make 38.8 percent of their 3-pointers. Purdue is a team that only shoots 31 percent from beyond the arc, while Minnesota’s opponents are shooting 31 percent as well from out there. The Gophers are shooting 48.9 percent from the field while holding opponents to 37.1 percent, and Purdue is shooting 45.6 percent and holding its opponents to 40 percent from the field. Despite both teams having a lot of size, neither team is a great rebounding team, as Minnesota is about even with its opponents on the boards and Purdue is averaging less than three more rebounds than its opponents.

Minnesota is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games. The total has gone over in each of Minnesota’s last three games and in six of its last seven games. Purdue is 1-3 ATS in its last four games and the total has gone over in five of its last seven games.

The home team is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings between Purdue and Minnesota. The Gophers are 1-4-1 ATS in their last six games against Purdue. The total has gone under in each of the last five games between these teams at Purdue, and the total has gone under in nine of the last 10 meetings between these teams overall. Minnesota, playing in its third true road game of the season (1-1 thus far), is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games overall but just 2-10 ATS in its last 12 road games and 0-9 ATS in its last nine games as a road underdog. Purdue is 9-0 SU at home this season and 21-2 in its last 23 home games.

Ryno’s Pick: Purdue has proven that it is one of the best teams in the country. The Boilermakers are an elite team this season and it’s going to be difficult to beat them, especially at home. Minnesota hasn’t proven yet that it can beat high-quality teams, especially on the road. Purdue is a very strong home team, so it’s unlikely Minnesota will be able to win at Mackey Arena. Minnesota is 0-9 ATS in its last nine games as a road underdog. The line isn’t too inflated towards Purdue because the Boilermakers haven’t been covering much lately and the Gophers have been. But Minnesota has only covered once in the last six games against Purdue, and the home team has covered in four of the last five. Take Purdue -7.5.