We picked up a nice win last night to run our record to 6-2 in our last eight college basketball games. We backed the number twenty-two ranked Wisconsin Badgers as they opened up their Big 10 schedule in Iowa against the number fourteen ranked Hawkeyes. I mentioned in my pick that to a casual bettor this might have seemed like a weird number as the Hawkeyes were undefeated, at home, higher ranked, and getting points. You don’t see that scenario all that often.
But when you dig deeper into some more advanced analytics, the Badgers were clearly the more talented team. So, I did something I don’t love to do, and I backed the road team laying points in conference play. The game was a tight one throughout and came down to the wire. But the Badgers closed out the game on a 12-5 run to both win and cover. With much of that run coming with their best player, Ethan Happ, fouled out of the game.
While Wisconsin won the game, I was able to get a new-found appreciation for Iowa in the loss. They play hard on defense, and they attack the boards. They aren’t the most talented team in the Bog 10 by a wide margin and to see them ranked as the number fourteen team in the country was preposterous, but this team can play. The Hawkeyes aren’t going to win any league titles this year, but they are going to find a way to beat a couple of teams that will surprise people this year. Don’t be shocked if the Hawkeyes end up hearing their name called on Selection Sunday. For today’s pick, I will stay right here in the Big 10 as the Purdue Boilermakers head to Michigan to face the Wolverines.
Two teams that are both kicking off their Big 10 schedules this year match up as the seventh-ranked Wolverines of Michigan host the nineteenth ranked Purdue Boilermakers. Michigan has captivated the nation as they are shooting up the rankings each week. Big Blue has big wins against Villanova and North Carolina, both blowouts, already this year.
Purdue finds themselves in the top twenty-five as well. However they have lost two out of their last three games. The Boilermakers lost to Florida State and Virginia Tech, two very good ACC teams. Both losses were very competitive. The Wolverines are -6-point home favorites. The game total over-under is set at 138 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 12:30 PM PST from the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor.
If you haven’t seen Ignas Bradeikis play yet this season you are missing out! The freshman has quickly turned into a national player of the year candidate and has these Wolverines poised for a return trip to the Final Four. Bradeikis has been the do-everything guy for Michigan this year and has scored at least eighteen points in five of Michigan’s seven games. He has scored at least twenty in the last three games.
Bradeikis is leading a Michigan team that is tops in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency, per kenpom. This team stifles even the best offensive teams. We saw that when they held the defending national champion, Villanova Wildcats, to just forty-six points on their home floor. In their most recent game, they North Carolina to sixty-seven points on just 39% shooting. This team defends at an absolutely elite level.
I really like this Purdue Boilermakers team. They play hard, they defend, the rebound the ball, and they have Carsen Edwards. Edwards is my current pick for national player of the year. Edwards is scoring over twenty-five points a game while pulling down three rebounds and dishing out four assists. A big key to tonight’s game will be whether or not Edwards can get his normal production against this stingy Wolverine defense. If Edwards has an off-shooting night, Purdue could get blown out.
This is an interesting game. When I first saw the game on the schedule, I assumed that with all of their recent hype, that Michigan would be over-valued, and I would take the points and back Purdue. But the number opened at a fairly reasonable one instead. And since has moved towards Purdue! In a spot where I assumed this number would be eight or nine points, I am only being charged with laying six points to back Michigan.
And that line move has changed my opinion on this game. This Wolverines team has blown out every team they have played this season. They are winning by over twenty-two points a game so far this year, that is seventh best in the country. And remember, they have played Villanova and North Carolina, the two teams that have won the last three national titles. They aren’t blowing out cupcakes, they are blowing out good teams.
Conference play is always going to be tough, and I hate laying too many points, but I think where this number stands right now at six points, I have no choice but to back the Wolverines. The Boilermakers have done a great job of keeping games close against good teams, but they haven’t seen anything like this Michigan team yet. Give me the Michigan Wolverines laying six points today at home!