Free Pick Against the Spread Purdue vs Indiana – March 4th

Purdue Boilermakers @ Indiana Hoosiers -6

You gotta love the final weekend of college basketball’s regular season.  It’s a full weekend packed with amazing and intense rivalries that give us one good final ‘check-up’ on teams before filling out those NCAA Tourney Brackets.  Anyone who watched last night’s awesome North Carolina performance (predicted quite accurately here on The Sports Geek, by the way) has got to be salivating, dreaming of a matchup with Kentucky in New Orleans in four weekends.

Today’s Purdue at Indiana game should give us a similarly revealing glance at the tourney-readiness of two of the more intriguing teams in the field.  Both teams are locks to be included, but the seeding range has a lot of room to wiggle.  Each team, especially Indiana with their three top five wins, could climb as high as a three seed (Purdue’s realistic ceiling is probably more like a #4), and fall as low as a #7 or #8.  Today’s game is a huge opportunity for a win to keep that out of those dreaded 6/11 or 7/10 first round toss-ups.

Indiana has been incredible at home this season, winning 17 of 18 in the friendly confines of Assembly Hall.  Their wins include scalps of Ohio State, Michigan State and Kentucky in the season’s most thrilling finish (with apologies to young Austin Rivers at Duke).  The Hoosiers’ lone loss was a January 12th home loss to Minnesota, which was before they suffered a few injuries (but still a bit of a fluke).  The point is, very few people have gone into IU’s den and left with a win this season.

Purdue, however, has been making a recent habit of knocking off good teams in their gymnasiums.  First, they got a reeling Illinois team on the road, but even more impressively they beat a desperate Northwestern squad and a very good Michigan team on the road as well.  Purdue has seemingly gelled as a team following the dismissal of enigmatic, yet talented forward Kelsey Barlow.  The Boilers’ has won five of six and covered the spread in six of their last seven games.

I think that is about where today’s game falls.  I think IU is a little too tough a home for Purdue to get the big upset win, but I think Lewis Jackson and Robbie Hummel have enough toughness and veteran savvy to deal with the manic environment and keep the game within shouting range.  Six points is a pretty hefty chunk to lay when they teams are pretty close to even talent-wise; especially in  an underratedly intense rivalry between two good instate rivals.

I like the Boilers to cover in a well-played game in Bloomington.

Free Pick:  Purdue Boilermakers +6

Chris Scheeren / Author