The cracks in the Purdue armor finally burst open as they enter this one off a loss against Indiana. Iowa on the other hand is in the middle of a three-game win streak with their most recent victory being an impressive win against Illinois. Can Iowa continue their hot stretch against the best Big Ten team in the nation?
Iowa Vs. Purdue Odds
Oddsmakers don’t think so as they opened the Hawkeyes as a +8 underdog on the road against the Boilermakers. Bettors think even less of their chances, backing Purdue up to -8.5 as of writing. The number brings some intrigue as Kenpom has the Boilermakers comfortably a ten point favorite, yet not getting the key number of eight gives me pause.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a blistering pace as oddsmakers opened the number at 150. Bettors have leaned towards the under, taking this down to 149.5 in some shops. The high total comes as no surprise as both units are top-3 in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency. Purdue’s defense has faltered as of late while Iowa has been unable to find any sort of defensive consistency throughout the season.
Iowa Vs. Purdue Prediction & Pick
The Pick: Under 150
Even though both defensive units have not played up to snuff recently, I will back the underfor a small wager as this total is a tad too high. This is more of a wager on the game script, one that calls for slow methodical halfcourt sets and mid range looks. When both of those aspects are in play, the game flow is friendly towards an under as it can lead to prolonged empty possessions that keep points off the board.
This under is heavily focused on Iowa’s end as they are one of the best offenses in the nation. They are currently third in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency per Kenpom, backed by productive scorers throughout the roster. It’s the Kris Murray show over at Iowa as he averages 20.5 points per game while shooting 50.2% from the field and 35% from the perimeter. He’s also been an impressive rebounder, hauling in 8.5 rebounds per game as well.
The issue is Iowa will struggle to generate their scoring opportunities with Zach Edey manning the interior. Edey sits at 7’4” and 295 pounds, sitting in the paint and altering shots on a nightly basis. This takes away a major aspect of the Iowa offense as they excel at getting to the rim for high quality scoring opportunities. Without that aspect of their offense, they now need to be more reliant on perimeter looks and mid-range opportunities.
Even while shooting over 35% from the perimeter as a team, Iowa shoots the three at a below average rate. Their offense relies on motion through the middle, opening up cutters to the rim. This sudden shift in offensive identity is poised to slow them down, playing more friendly towards our under. Especially if Iowa opts into the idea of settling for more mid-range looks, typically a low-quality shot selection. We can expect Purdue to clean up the glass with Edey manning the paint, resulting in empty scoring trips and time off the clock.
Iowa Vs. Purdue Key Matchups
Can Iowa’s interior defense do enough to slow down Zach Edey?
Zach Edey vs Iowa interior defense
It’s tough to put any sort of faith in the Iowa defense as they are typically known as a below average unit for an upper tier team, but that is exactly what we are doing with our under ticket. Lucky for us, Purdue’s offense already plays at an under friendly pace by having a tempo good for 333rd in the nation per Kenpom.
They rely on half court sets to get the ball in Edey’s hands on the block and have him either do work in the paint or kick it back out to a potential open shooter.
You can only hope to slow him down as it has shown to be impossible to stop him throughout the course of the game. That is exactly what we need Iowa to do, play help defense and slow down his damage in the interior. Purdue will score, but hopefully the Hawkeyes can limit the damage to a slow pace.
With Purdue playing at one of the slowest tempos in basketball, as well as altering the offensive identity of Iowa, I will take the under at no lower than 148 for a small wager.