It’s one of two matchups on today’s slate that features a top-25 team as the Michigan State Spartans hit the road to battle it out against the Purdue Boilermakers. On a Sunday where the NFL Conference Championship is sure to overshadow mid-day action, this serves as the perfect appetizer with a noon tipoff. Purdue has been reeling as of late, narrowly escaping with questionable victories. Can Izzo coach up some magic and secure a massive Big Ten win for the Spartans?
Michigan State Vs. Purdue Odds
Oddsmakers don’t think so as they opened the Sparts as a +8.5 underdog. Bettors are on the opposite end of bookmakers, backing Michigan State down to as low as +7.5 in some shops. Recency bias may play a major role in this as Purdue has struggled to pull away against inferior competition ever since Maryland laid the blueprint on how to slow them down. The Spartans have one of the best coaches in basketball, one that is sure to keep the trend going and pressure the Boilermakers the full length of the court.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a moderate pace as oddsmakers opened the total at 130. Bettors have failed to make a stand on either end, keeping the number the same since the open. Even against a depleted Michigan squad who was missing one of their key players, the Boilermakers struggled to pull ahead let alone cover the number. This was eye opening as the cracks in the Purdue armor are starting to shine brighter with each passing game.
Michigan State Vs. Purdue Prediction & Pick
The Pick: Michigan State +8
With that said, I will back the Spartans at no lower than +8. Not only am I getting a key number for late game situations, but Purdue has been struggling to cover as of late. Michigan State is also getting an immediate boost with the return of Malik Hall, opening their offense with his elite playmaking. His return was a surprise in their last game against Iowa, playing on restricted minutes and will be expected to carry a heavier load in this one.
While his production on offense will be key, it will be the Spartans defensive play that makes or breaks their hopes of covering. The Terps showed how to slow down this high-powered offense, pressing them over the full length of the court and making them uncomfortable in a fast-paced situation. Purdue wants to slow the game to a snail’s pace, ranking 332nd in Adjusted Tempo per Kenpom.
By putting them in hectic high-pressure situations with a full court suffocating defense, this takes precious time away from Purdue’s methodical half court sets. With their slow style of play, Purdue wants to run sets that end with Edey having the ball on the block. When they are able to get that going, they are hard pressed to be stopped. Edey averages 21.4 points per game while leading this offense to a fourth ranked Adjusted Offensive Efficiency rating.
Running their defense at an elite rate will be vital as the Spartans lack an interior presence. Other than Mady Sissoko, the Spartans don’t possess another big body as Joey Hauser is a stretch four at best. This leaves the interior open for Edey to do damage unless they send down help defense. It’s not the end of the world should Michigan State dare Purdue to beat them from deep as the Boilermakers average a lowly 32.9% from the perimeter.
Michigan State Vs. Purdue Key Matchups
Can Joey Hauser stretch out the defense with his elite perimeter shooting?
Joey Hauser vs Purdue perimeter defense
The Spartan’s offense has been their Achilles heel for quite some time with Izzo running a prehistoric style of play. He has shifted his philosophy over time, allowing the offense to play out more to the perimeter.
A big piece of that success has been from Joey Hauser who is averaging 13.7 points per game on 41.1% from the perimeter. His presence will be vital for tier offensive success as he will need to stretch out the Purdue interior defense with his outside shooting.
He has been more active with the ball out of his hands, being the focal point of halfcourt sets while the team gets him open for a high-quality look. Should his shooting open up the middle, this allows Malik Hall and Tyson Walker ample opportunities to find success in the mid-range.
Back the Spartans at no lower than +8 as Purdue has hit auto fade territory for the time being. Izzo will be sure to press Purdue, forcing them into uncomfortable situations and turning defense into offense.