Purdue Boilermakers (23-6), -2.5, o/u 125.5 @ Ohio State Buckeyes (17-12), +2.5, o/u 125.5, Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio, 7 p.m. Eastern, Tuesday
by Oracle of Predictem.com
It’s now or never for the Ohio State Buckeyes.
After being one of the teams mentioned as an at-large possibility just a few weeks ago, the Buckeyes have looked like anything but an NCAA Tournament team. Ohio State is mired in a four game slump, most recently getting beat handily by Minnesota, 71-57, on Saturday.
The Buckeyes have a chance to sway the selection committee’s minds when the 15th ranked Purdue Boilermakers come to Columbus to play at Value City Arena. With a loss against Purdue, Ohio State can say good bye to the NCAA Tourney and hello to the NIT, unless they somehow pull off a miracle and win the Big Ten Tournament.
Their task won’t be an easy one, as Purdue comes into the game winning 13 of its last 14 games overall and tied for the Big Ten lead with Wisconsin.
Sportsbooks around the net surprisingly opened up this game with Ohio State being the favorite -1.5. Already in some cases, that line has moved to Ohio State 2.5. The over/under stands at a rather low total of 125.5.
It’s an interesting line when looking at the stats on paper. Purdue scores more points than Ohio State, gives up less points, shoots better free throws commits less turnovers and has a deeper bench to go to. The Boilermakers also beat the Buckeyes already this year, 75-68, back in January, albeit at Mackey Arena in West Lafeyette.
One of the main reasons Ohio State is favored in this match up is because Purdue struggles in Columbus, losing seven straight times since a 107-75 win back in 1998.
However, with these two teams headed in total opposite directions, bettors are more than likely going to jump all over the Boilermakers.
Purdue hasn’t necessarily looked dominate over its past few games. In fact, in their win against Northwestern on Saturday, they were leading at halftime by just one point over the dreadful Northwestern Wildcats because of a poor shooting performance (30.4%). They picked up the pace in the second half and cruised the rest of the way.
In that contest, Purdue used the long ball, hitting 50% (11-for-22) from downtown. Six different players hit at least on three-pointer, with freshmen Robbie Hummel and E’Twaun Moore making three apiece.
Purdue has been coined the “Baby Boilers” because, obviously, of its youth.
They have just one senior on the roster, but start two freshmen (Hummel
and Moore), two sophomores (Keaton Grant and Chris Kramer) and a junior
(Nemanja Calasan). While Hummel and Moore pick up most of the offensive
slack, it’s Kramer who brings a tough, physical presence to the floor for
Kramer is one of the big reasons why his team allows just 60.2 points per game, good enough for 15th in the country. He is second on the team in minutes played and one of the Big Ten leaders in steals at 2.3 per game. He also leads the team in assists (2.9) and does the little things that don’t show up in the box score.
Kramer will have the tough task of matching up with Ohio State senior guard Jamar Butler, who torched the Baby Boilers for 28 points in the first contest between these two teams. Kosta Koufus has come into his own, too. The 7-foot center has scored in double digits in 12 straight games and has averaged nearly 3 blocks in his last 4 games.
If Ohio State wants any shot at knocking off the Boilermakers, they’ll need their role players to step up. Koufus and Butler score 42% of their teams points. Players like senior Othello Hunter and David Lighty will have to do their best to help offensively. Neither player had much of impact in the first meeting, combining to shoot 4-of-16 for 10 points.
It looks like the books haven’t really learned, once again doubting Purdue. The Boilermakers are an impressive 16-10 ATS, including a nice 7-2 road mark. Even more impressive is the 21-5 record ATS in the last 26 Big Ten games for Purdue. And to boot, they love playing on Tuesdays, scoring a 6-1 record ATS.
But here is why the Sportsbooks on the net have Ohio State as the favorite. The Boilermakers are just 2-5 ATS in the last seven games in Columbus, and just 3-11 ATS against Ohio State in the last 14 overall meetings.
Contradictory to that is the fact that Ohio State doesn’t have an extravagant record ATS at 12-13 on the year. They’re also just 4-7 covering at home and 1-4 ATS in their past five home games.
Both are your typical Big Ten teams, sporting tough defenses. Ohio State gives up just 61.8 points per game and hold opponents to shooting 38.2% from the floor, which is sixth in the nation, and 30.3% from downtown (14th). They rely on their newly found 2-3 defense, which they have run the entire year under head coach Thad Matta.
Their slow style of play, along with the physical Purdue defense, means that the 125.5 over/under is a pretty good number of points. The game earlier in the year produced a lot of fouls and free throws toward the end of the game resulting in more points and the over.
The over is somewhat of a rare entity for both teams, though, with an 8-17 record for Ohio State (3-8 at home) and a 13-13 mark for Purdue. The under is also 4-1 in the last five meetings between these two squads when played in Columbus.
It’s hard to figure why a ranked Purdue team with a chance to win the Big Ten title is an underdog to a team freefalling its way into the NIT. Traditionally Purdue doesn’t play well when visiting the Buckeyes, so bettors will have to decide if the Boilermakers’ past results will coincide with the present.
Oracle’s Pick: This game will be physical, slow and, for the most part, ugly. Take OSU to win a game many think that Purdue will win easy.