Wisconsin Badgers vs. Purdue Boilermakers Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Wisconsin Badgers (16-4 SU, 10-8 ATS) vs. Purdue Boilermakers (16-3 SU, 8-10-1 ATS), 7:00 p.m. EST, Thursday, January 28, 2009, Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, Ind. TV: ESPN
by Ryno of Predictem.com

Point Spread: Wisconsin +8/Purdue -8
Over/Under: 126

Michigan State is cruising through the Big Ten right now with an 8-0 conference record, but there are some quality teams behind them. Two of those teams - the Wisconsin Badgers and Purdue Boilermakers - will battle it out in a Big Ten heavyweight contest as the two teams try to stay near the top of the conference standings and chase the Spartans.

Purdue was breezing through its schedule with an undefeated record before running into a rough patch, losing three straight games to Wisconsin, Ohio State and Northwestern. But the Boilermakers have since recovered with a pair of wins over Illinois and Michigan.

In their 69-59 win at home over Michigan on Saturday, JaJuan Johnson was the go-to guy for the Boilermakers with 21 points and seven rebounds. He was 9-for-17 from the field. E’Twaun Moore had a great game as well with 19 points, on 6-of-11 shooting, and six assists. Robbie Hummel had a solid effort with 13 points and seven rebounds. The Boilermakers shot 50 percent from the field and won the rebounding and turnover battles.

Wisconsin has just one home loss this season but is a modest 2-3 on the road. The Badgers have lost on the road at Wisconsin-Green Bay, Michigan State and Ohio State, and has won at Penn State and Northwestern.

In their last game, the Badgers won 79-71 in overtime at home over Penn State on Sunday. Penn State led by eight at the half and by double-digits for much of the second half until the Badgers made a furious comeback to tie it up and force overtime. Trevon Hughes scored 22 points, Jordan Taylor had 20, Keaton Nankivil added 17, and Jason Bohannon chipped in with 13. Hughes played the entire 45 minutes. The Badgers shot 10-for-33 on 3-point attempts and only committed a total of five turnovers in 45 minutes of game action. Attempting 33 3-point attempts isn’t ideal, but only committing five turnovers will allow them to get a lot of shot opportunities. Doing so well in the turnover department (they forced 18 turnovers as well) made up for allowing Penn State to shoot 52 percent from the field, shoot 7-for-15 on 3-pointers, and out-rebound the Badgers by 10.

Wisconsin is one of the best teams in the country at protecting the ball, as the Badgers are only committing 9.5 turnovers per game. Purdue has been very good at forcing turnovers with 17.2 per game. Wisconsin has been even better in conference play, only turning it over 8.1 times per game. Purdue is getting crushed on the boards in conference play with a -9.2 rebound margin. Both teams are shooting about 30 percent on 3-pointers in conference play and allowing Big Ten opponents to shoot around 35 percent on 3-point attempts. Purdue has been consistent overall and in conference play in field goal percentage offense and defense, shooting around 46 percent and allowing opponents to shoot around 41 percent. Wisconsin has gotten worse in conference play, as its field goal percentage has dropped from 45 percent to 40 percent and its field goal defense has gone up from 41 percent to 42 percent.

Wisconsin won 73-66 at home over Purdue on January 9.

Wisconsin is 1-5 ATS in its last six games as an underdog. Purdue is 2-5 ATS in its last seven games as a home favorite and 1-4 ATS in its last five games overall. Wisconsin is 1-7 ATS in its last eight games against Purdue and 1-6 ATS in its last seven games at Purdue. The underdog is 7-1 ATS in the last eight meetings between these teams. The under is 4-1 in the last five meetings between these teams at Purdue.

Ryno’s Pick: Both of these teams are playing great basketball this season and will have great seeds in the NCAA tournament. It’s hard to say how much motivation there is for these teams, as both teams know they will easily make the NCAA tournament and both teams are a few games back from undefeated Michigan State in the Big Ten standings. The only real motivation is the revenge factor for Purdue after losing to the Badgers in Madison a few weeks ago. Wisconsin hasn’t been great lately ATS against Purdue, especially at Mackey Arena. The Boilermakers need this win more than the Badgers, as they want to protect their home court and get some revenge. Take Purdue -8.