In a game that represents a changing of the guard, the Purdue Boilermakers travel to East Lansing to take on the Michigan State Spartans. While normally the dominant force of the Big Ten, MSU has dipped as of late while Purdue has claimed the mantle as the Big Ten elite. Their struggles were apparent in their last game out against Illinois, struggling to generate any sort of offense. Can they get back on track against one of the best teams in the nation?
Purdue Vs. Michigan State Odds
Oddsmakers don’t think so as they opened the Spartans as a +4.5 underdog. Bettors believe they have a better chance than the number implies, taking them down to +3.5 as of writing. This comes as a slight surprise as Michigan State’s offensive production relies mainly in the paint and Purdue fields one of the fiercest big men in the nation with Zach Edey. Should they be unable to stretch out the defense with poor shooting once again, then points may be tough to come by for the Spartans.
Speaking of points, oddsmakers believe points will be scored at a moderate pace as they set the total at 134. Bettors are in agreement, backing the under down to 133.5 with indication that it will continue to drop lower. MSU has fared better on the defensive end than on offense, being more than capable of disrupting Purdue’s scoring rhythm. Their defensive success will be the key metric for an upset as they need to give their offense all the help they can get until they can find a consistent shooting rhythm.
Purdue Vs. Michigan State Prediction & Pick
The Pick: Under 133.5
With that said, I will back the under at 133.5 as we may be in for one ugly offensive display of basketball. This will be a combination of Michigan State’s shooting ineptitude and their defensive ability to limit Purdue’s scoring pace. Speaking of pace, both units run as one of the slowest units in the nation with Purdue ranking 324th in Adjusted Tempo and Michigan State at 303rd per Kenpom.
When it comes to limiting the Purdue offense, it all starts with slowing down their big man Zach Edey. He is one of the best players in the nation and their clear leader, averaging 21.3 points per game while hauling in 13.2 rebounds. At 7’4” and 295lbs, he imposes his immovable stature on the block with his touch around the rim and second chance opportunities. MSU will be hard pressed to combat them with size as their tallest players all clock in at 6’9″.
Instead, they will have to attack him with help defense. This will force Purdue to beat them elsewhere and limit his second chance opportunities with their elite defensive rebounding. The Spartans currently rank top-20 in limiting offensive rebounding, showing they are more than capable of overcoming their smaller stature with extra pressure down low.
With extra hands-on deck down low, this does create a potential opportunity for Purdue to get cleaner looks from the perimeter. This is a gamble the Spartans will have to make as Zach Edey has proven to be a far more consistent scoring threat then the team’s three-point shooting. Purdue has struggled from deep, only converting at 32.6% from the perimeter as a team.
Purdue Vs. Michigan State Key Matchups
Can Michigan State’s offense come back alive and give them much needed production?
Michigan State scoring vs Purdue defense
An area that has plagued the Spartans over the past couple of years, they are once again an anemic scoring unit. They started off hot early in the season, relying on transitional offense to put up points in a hurry. Since then? Their Adjusted Offensive Efficiency has dipped to 62nd per Kenpom.
They have opted for more half court sets, drastically slowing down the tempo and limiting offensive possessions. The issue with less possessions is that they have failed to capitalize on them, suffering from poor shooting and empty trips.
Their perimeter shooting has already been brutal and are poised to continue to struggle against a Purdue defense that excels at perimeter defense. This will force them to find answers in the mid-range as they will be hard pressed to get high quality looks down low with Edey anchoring the paint.
With Michigan State limiting Purdue’s second chance opportunities, while currently going through shooting woes themselves, I will take the under in what will be a lackluster offensive performance from both units.