PURDUE BOILERMAKERS (10-8)
at MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (17-1)
Tip-off: Thursday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Michigan -14.5, Total: 132.5
No. 2 Michigan looks to stay hot on Thursday night when they host Big Ten rival Purdue to Ann Arbor.
This will be a matchup of contrasting styles with Purdue's stingy defense (61.2 PPG on 38% FG) facing Michigan's potent offense (79.3 PPG on 51% FG). The Boilermakers have been even more impressive on the defensive end during their three-game win streak (SU and ATS), allowing just 50.0 PPG on 29.7% FG. After suffering its first loss of the season on Jan. 13 at Ohio State, the Wolverines responded with an 83-75 road win at then-No. 9 Minnesota. Purdue is just 2-5 (SU and ATS) in non-home games this season, while Michigan is 11-0 SU (6-4 ATS) at home. The Boilermakers have had the edge in this series lately, winning six of the past eight games SU and going 10-5 ATS in the past 15 meetings with Michigan.
Can Michigan find some separation against Purdue's hard-nosed defense? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. StatFox Gary has a sparkling 56.3% ATS (58-45-1) record for the season for college basketball Best Bets, while StatFox Dave is 53.1% ATS (94-83-3) on the year. Dave is 8-4-1 ATS (67%) since Nov. 24 when he mentions the word "hammer" in his analysis, including 6-4 ATS (60%) when he uses the term "Hammertime." StatFox Brian is 11-8 ATS (58%) since Jan. 12, with 9 non-losing days out of these 12 days. StatFox Scott is 3-2 ATS in the past four days.
As great as Purdue's defense has been, the offense has been equally as bad, especially from three-point range (4.4 threes per game, 314th in nation) and the free-throw line (62.8%, 316th in D-I). Junior SG Terone Johnson (13.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG) has scored in double-figures in 12 of his past 14 games, but has shot above 50% FG just once in his past 10 contests, making 5-of-9 shots in Saturday's 79-52 romp over West Virginia. But in last year's 75-61 upset win at then-No. 13 Michigan, Johnson poured in a game-high 22 points on 9-of-12 FG. Senior swingman D.J. Byrd (10.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG) has scored 12+ points in three straight games, knocking down 11-of-20 threes. Providing the muscle down low is freshman C A.J. Hammons (10.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG) who has been outstanding in his past four Big Ten games, averaging 14.8 PPG on 56.1% FG with 8.3 RPG. Freshman PG Ronnie Johnson (9.1 PPG, 3.4 APG) has not been very effective running the offense with a 1.3 Ast/TO ratio (62 Ast, 46 TO), and he has been atrocious in shooting the basketball, making just 35% FG and 3-of-26 threes (11.5%) this season. But the team wants his focus to be mainly on containing Michigan star PG Trey Burke.
One of the reasons Michigan is poised to take over No. 1 in the polls this season is because it commits the fewest fouls of any team in the nation (12.1 per game). The Wolverines also take care of the basketball (9.7 TOPG, 4th-fewest in D-I) and knock down threes at a 41% clip (8th in nation). PG Trey Burke (18.0 PPG, 7.2 APG) is in the midst of an All-American season, but he has gone cold in the past three games, making just 15-of-44 shots (34%). Although he connected on just 5-of-15 shots in last Thursday's win at Minnesota, Burke still dished out nine assists and committed only one turnover. He shot poorly against Purdue last season too, making just 7-of-22 shots (32%) in the two-game split. SG Tim Hardaway Jr. (16.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG) has been on a scoring barrage in the past four weeks, scoring 12+ points in all seven games he's played, averaging 18.6 PPG. He also scored 19 points (8-of-15 FG) in last season's win at Purdue, but was held to 10 points on 5-of-13 FG, including 0-for-6 threes, in the home loss to the Boilers. In terms of long-range shooting, freshman SG Nik Stauskas (12.6 PPG) ranks 21st in the nation with his impressive 49.5% clip from three-point range. He has scored in double-figures in 16 of his past 17 games, but the lone exception was when he was shut out (0-for-3 FG) in the loss at Ohio State. Freshman F Glenn Robinson III (12.1 PPG, 5.8 RPG) has been great at Crisler Center in the past month with 18.0 PPG and 6.3 RPG in the past three home games.