Are the Michigan Wolverines for real? After a brutal and unfortunate non-conference schedule that has equated to a 283rd Luck rating Per Kenpom, the Wolverines have bounced back in conference play and currently sit at 3rd in the Big Ten. They now get a date with one of the best teams in the conference, let alone the nation. The Purdue shine has been wearing off as of late, showing the cracks in the armor. Can Michigan capitalize with a big win and prove they are for real?
Purdue Vs. Michigan Odds
Oddsmakers don’t think so as they opened the Wolverines as a +5 underdog on their own home court. Bettors are in agreement with oddsmakers, backing the Wolverines up to +5.5 as of writing. This comes as a bit of a surprise as this would imply the Wolverines are a far greater underdog on a neutral court, yet they have the identity to dethrone the Boilermakers with their own elite big man in Hunter Dickinson. The question is if Dickinson will be able to consistently score against the giant known as Zach Edey.
Speaking of scoring, points are expected to be scored at a moderate pace as oddsmakers opened the total at 135.5. Bettors have yet to take a stand on either side of the total, keeping the number the same as what it opened at. This is an immediate pass for me as Maryland laid the blueprint on how to slow down the Purdue offensive attack, making it intriguing to see if Michigan will follow suit. Should they do the same, then the under has great potential to cash.
Purdue Vs. Michigan Prediction & Pick
The Pick: Michigan +5.5
Even with Purdue showing far greater consistency since the start of the season, I will eb backing the Wolverines on the current number as we may witness their fruition of them being a formidable Big Ten team. They have the identity to combat against Purdue, fielding an elite big man and the potential defensive scheme to slow down their offense. It also helps that Big Ten home teams seem invincible, hitting at an incredible rate so far this season.
Starting with Hunter Dickinson, it’s business as usual as he is once again the leading force behind their offense. He averages 18.1 points per game on 57.1% completion percentage while also stretching out the floor with a 40% completion rate from the perimeter. This will be vital as getting Edey away from the basket will open up the rest of the offense to make cuts at the rim for high quality looks at the rim.
Assuming Edey disrupts Dickinson’s scoring with his immense size and shot altering abilities, it will be up to the Wolverines secondary scorers to help keep them within the number. Jett Howard and Kobe Bufkin have been those guys with Jett bringing a perimeter presence while Kobe has done his damage in the paint. If Dickinson can command the attention of Edey and force him to stretch out, this gives Bufkin ample room to work within the paint.
As for their defense, this will be the key metric to watch as Purdue’s offense has been one of the best units in the nation. The Boilermakers currently rank fifth in the nation in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency per Kenpom. Maryland laid the blueprint on how to slow down this unit, pressing them from the start and forcing them into high pressure situations. Purdue plays at a snail’s pace with a 330rd rank Adjusted Tempo, wanting to avoid any sort of pace that comes with breaking a press. Michigan can turn this defense into offense, generating easy points in transition.
Purdue Vs. Michigan Key Matchups
Can Dickinson slow down Edey on the block?
Zach Edey vs Hunter Dickinson
When Purdue is able to establish their offense, it revolves around Edey’s production on the low post as he towers over any defender in his path. He averages 21.5 points per game off of a heavy usage rate.
It will be a tall task for Dickinson to slow down, but he has immensely improved as a defender and can limit the second chance opportunities that Edey has been able to get.
We also may see Michigan throw a help defender to generate some Havoc and force Purdue to beat them from the outside. The Boilermakers have struggled to shoot from the perimeter, averaging a lowly 32.6% from three.
Back Michigan at the current number, turning their defense into offense while also being able to stretch Edey away from the basket.