Purdue hit some bumps late in the season, but the Boilermakers find themselves on the verge of a Big Ten title and a No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday. Can a Penn State team playing its best basketball of the season pull one final upset? Purdue is a 6-point favorite, with the over/under at 135.5 points.
Let’s make predictions for Sunday’s Big Ten title game and break down why Penn State has a chance to give the Boilermakers a challenge.
Penn State vs. Purdue Prediction
The luck ran out for Ohio State against Purdue, but Penn State seems closer to the Boilermakers’ level than the Buckeyes’ level right now.
The Nittany Lions have a balanced offense led by do-it-all guard Jalen Pickett and dangerous outside shooters. The defense finished the regular season on a high note and gave Indiana trouble in the first half on Saturday.
Zach Edey is poised for a big performance against Penn State’s lack of size and makes Purdue the rightful favorite, but the Nittany Lions defended him better in their second matchup and were beaten by a career performance by Mason Gillis (29 points, 10/14). Gillis isn’t doing that again, and Edey can only do so much on his own.
Only one of Penn State’s last 11 games has been decided by more than six points. I’m expecting a close game either way from a Micah Shrewsberry team that doesn’t quit. Penn State +6 is the pick.
Penn State vs. Purdue Prediction: Penn State +6
Penn State vs. Purdue Odds
Purdue enters as a 6-point over the Nittany Lions, sitting at -260 on the moneyline. The over/under is 135.5 points.
The Boilermakers are moderate favorites as expected, and the line only being a point shorter than it was against Ohio State indicates some real respect for Purdue. Penn State didn’t play Purdue closely in the regular season but has made a habit of playing close games lately. Which of those trends gets broken on Sunday?March Madness bracket first four out: Why X missed 2023 NCAA Tournament
Penn State vs. Purdue Key Matchups
Here are some key matchups that could decide Penn State vs. Purdue.
Zach Edey vs. Penn State’s Lack of Size
As mentioned yesterday when previewing Purdue’s matchup with Ohio State, every Boilermakers game runs through Zach Edey. The focus is on what opposing defenses can do to limit him, not stop him. Ohio State was set up to fail against Edey and that’s exactly what happened, with the big man going off for 32 points and 14 assists.
Edey’s performances against Penn State should concern Nittany Lions fans. The likely player of the year posted 30 & 13 in their first meeting and 18 & 13 in the next. Penn State doesn’t have great size, with 6’4” Jalen Pickett and 6’6” Seth Lundy easily the team’s two leading rebounders. 6’10” Kebba Njie will also see plenty of Edey.
Preventing Edey from being such a force on the boards is critical to Penn State winning this game. On the offensive side of the ball, Edey’s size also gives him a real advantage, though Penn State kept him in check on that end the second time.
Penn State Shooters vs. Purdue Perimeter Defense
It’s not a question that Jalen Pickett is going to make an impact all over the court. He’s essentially Penn State’s Zach Edey in that a big performance is a near-lock and the rest depends on a shaky supporting cast.
What Pickett’s supporting cast does best is shoot. Andrew Funk and Seth Lundy both shoot over 40% from three-point range, and the Nittany Lions as a team are 10th in the nation in three-point percentage. Camren Wynter has also emerged as a dangerous shooter lately, though he does most of his work inside the three-point line. This growing collection weapons is one reason for my Penn State vs. Purdue prediction.
A Purdue defense that holds opponents to 31.1% from three will need to make sure it limits the damage to Pickett and doesn’t give the rest of the group easy shot opportunities. Penn State beat the 31% mark pretty easily in both of its two matchups with Purdue this season, so there’s a good chance we’ll see the Nittany Lions hit some shots on Sunday. It’s also worth noting Penn State lost both of those games handily.