A night of good rivalries in college hoops definitely didn’t disappoint last night. Obviously Duke and Carolina’s instant classic, a 92-90 thriller highlighted by Duke’s 14-4 run to close regulation and allow for overtime theatrics. Carolina covered with ease, but I am sure that is little consolation for the Carolina faithful who suffered their ninth loss in twelve games against hated Duke.
We came up a few points short last night as well, on the wrong end of another less-than-ten-miles separated rivalry thriller, as Xavier warded off a ferocious Cincinnati Bearcat’s thriller and sured up their tournament positioning in the process.
There are some more great games tonight as college basketball once again begins sharing the stage with the professionals – but don’t sleep on another under-the-radar fierce rivalry when Purdue visits revenge-bent Indiana in tough Assembly Hall.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Purdue Boilermakers at Indiana Hoosiers -5
Purdue hammered Indiana just three weeks ago in West Lafayette, one of the first warning salvos that this Boilermaker team might just have legitimate NCAA Tournament plans. However, this year in the Big Ten, especially with Indiana, there has been a world of difference between home and road results. They may have gotten blasted just a few hours down the road, but I expect a far different game this evening.
This is the beginning of a brutal make-or-break road stretch for the Boilermakers. After tonight they have road games at Michigan State and Ohio State remaining. Including Indiana their remaining road opponents are 42-5 at home. Ouch. But for now, let’s worry about the here and now. And the immediately looming issue for Purdue is their 3-3 road record in conference play. At a glance, that sound OK. But consider their wins are over Northwestern, Penn State and Rutgers. Their losses are to Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota. Meaning, anyone not terrible has beaten the ‘Makers at home. I think Indiana will find a similar result tonight.
The Hoosiers, for all their maddening inconsistency (which is to be expected when your two primary scorers are under 6’3’’) are good at home. They are 15-1 good at home, with the lone loss being the fluke to Eastern Washington before Christmas, and even I’m done killing them over that lone loss. Wins over Ohio State, Michigan and Maryland have convinced me. Especially given the smothering nature of the Maryland win. I think you’ll see a completely different team tonight then the one that floundered in Mackey Arena a few weeks ago.
Look for Indiana’s lightning quick backcourt to create plenty of good looks for both themselves and sharp-shooting teammates. I liked this game better when it opened at 3.5. As of writing time, it has expanded to -5. I’ll still take the Hoosiers. The Hoosiers are shooting 47.9% from behind the arc in their last five games. The Boilermakers are shooting just over 32% over the same stretch. The game should be fun and intense, but Indiana should make enough shots at home to stretch the lead late.