Purdue vs. Penn State CBB Predictions 1/8/22
Purdue Boilermakers (12-2 SU, 7-7 ATS) vs. Penn State Nittany Lions (7-5 SU, 5-7 ATS)
When: Saturday, January 8, Noon
Where: Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, Pa.
Point Spread: PUR -9/PSU +9 (Bovada)
Moneyline: PUR -550/PSU +400
Last Time Out:
Purdue lost 74-69 to Wisconsin; Penn State beat Northwestern 74-70.
About the Matchup:
The Boilers now face the matchup they’ve dreaded since the season began, and they’re doing so in a situation where they’re coming in off a surprising home loss to an opponent who wasn’t playing all that well. The reason this was a trip Purdue has dreaded isn’t as much the success of the underdog in this series as it is the coach on the other bench: Penn State coach Micah Shrewsberry was Purdue coach Matt Painter’s top assistant a year ago, and the Nittany Lions’ boss knows the Boilers, as well as they, know themselves.
Of course, by the same token, Painter knows Shrewsberry and what kind of offense he’ll be running, so there will be almost no surprises in this matchup. That means this will likely come down to talent, and Purdue has a big advantage in that department. But Shrewsberry has already shown that he knows how to use his knowledge of other coaches to his advantage in upsetting Indiana, as he forced Indiana into a trap by changing up his team’s offense and forcing the Hoosiers to either call timeout or adjust to it without the help of their coach. Indiana opted for the latter, couldn’t deal with it, and lost. Could the same thing happen to Purdue, facing a coach who knows all of their tricks?
Scouting the Boilermakers:
Championship teams usually have more depth than Purdue, which gets the bulk of its points from four players: Jaden Ivey, Zach Edey, Trevion Williams, and Sasha Stefanovic. Combined, the four leading scorers average 56 points a game, with the rest of the squad contributing 30 on average. The Boilers shoot it well, don’t turn the ball over much, and they’re strong on the glass, making them a matchup nightmare for most teams.
The problem is that Purdue doesn’t put teams away when it gets a lead on them. The Boilers’ problems with finishing the job came back to haunt them against Wisconsin, as the Boilers never got the lead above five points and couldn’t finish off the Badgers. When Wisconsin did finally get the lead, Purdue couldn’t find an answer for Johnny Davis and ended up with a defeat. Penn State doesn’t have anyone who can take over a game like that, but if the Boilers don’t put them away early, the Nittany Lions will have the confidence of knowing that they can handle a tight situation against a Big Ten foe.
Scouting the Nittany Lions:
Penn State looked like it was building a classic home-court hero profile: get the job done against big opponents at home but get ripped apart when they leave their home surroundings. But then the Nittany Lions went and won at Northwestern, suggesting the win over Indiana might not have been a fluke after all. Penn State is closing off opponents on defense and holding them to one shot per trip, which has made a huge difference this season.
The Nittany Lions are getting the job done lately because they like to make teams wait, which forces them into the kind of mistakes that lead to them beating themselves. Indiana couldn’t unlock the Penn State defense when it came to University Park, and Penn State just needs a similar effort in this situation to throw Purdue off its game long enough to make this a lower scoring game and play at its comfort level.
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Purdue will Cover If: The Boilers use their own knowledge of Shrewsberry to exploit the Penn State defense. The Nittany Lions aren’t the only ones who can use the past to help them battle with Purdue. The Boilers should find a way to use their knowledge of similar systems and find the weak point.
Penn State will Cover If: The Nittany Lions can play the game at their pace and force the Boilers to wait for opportunities. Purdue has done this before, but this year’s team looks a lot more reluctant to slow the game down than past teams have been. If Penn State tries to run, or if John Harrar can’t get rebounds, this won’t end well.
Dan’s Best Prop Bets
If I think Penn State can stick close, that means that the game is likely to be played at Penn State’s tempo, and that means an under is in the offering. I can’t see this game between two teams who know each other so well becoming an offensive shootout; this one looks like a grind-it-out game.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
Penn State will only get blown out if it’s truly exhausted from its past two games. Otherwise, Shrewsberry knows the Boilers too well to have his first meeting with them turn into something that gets out of hand, so I like Penn State to cover the number. Give me the Nittany Lions.
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