Big Ten Basketball Betting: Stay Away From Boilers
by Max Powers, Doc's CBB Analyst - 02/09/2009
Most experts around the country believed the Big Ten was going to be down this year with the exception of Purdue and Michigan State. Many believed Purdue was the team to beat and forward Robbie Hummel was the selection as the Preseason Player of the Year. Purdue got off to a solid start to the season, going 11-2 in non-conference play with their only two losses coming to Top 5 teams in Oklahoma and Duke.
But once conference play opened up things went south and they dropped their first two games to Illinois and Penn State, both middle-of-the-road teams in the Big Ten. The main reason for this setback was the injury to Robbie Hummel, as he was out with a stress fracture in his lower back. This is an ongoing injury and appears that it will make him questionable for each game for the rest of this season. So far he has missed four games this season and played sparingly in one other game. This has to be very frustrating for Coach Matt Painter, as he has seen his team drop four conference games and we are just in the second week of February. What is worse is that all four of those losses have come to second-tier teams, all of which are still on the bubble to make the Big Dance.
They have yet to play Michigan State, the team that currently sits atop the Big Ten standings with a 9-2 conference record. Purdue really opened the door for the Spartans and it appears MSU has not taken fully advantage of that gift. Granted, they are 9-2, but their two losses really have me scratching my head, as they came against Penn State and Northwestern and both were at home! Michigan State has been perfect on the road during conference play with impressive wins at Minnesota and Ohio State. With Purdue now having four losses in the conference, if Michigan State does not win it this year, they will never win it again.
Turning back to Purdue, the status of Hummel has got to be frustrating for his teammates, as their roles change each game based on whether or not he sees action. Even more frustrating is the effect it has on college basketball handicappers. When Hummel is healthy, Purdue is a Top 10 team, evident by some of their impressive blowout victories against Wisconsin, Davidson, and Boston College. When Hummel does not play, this team is just average and can have major problems scoring.
The point spread can often jump five or six points depending on his status and this can either give you a major edge or a setback depending on which side of the Purdue game you are on. With the new trend this decade being that teams do not release much about injuries, often times one will not know until right before tip-off if Hummel will or will not play. This is not entirely about Purdue being Bill Belichick-like with disclosing their injuries, as often times it just depends on how Hummel's back fells that given day. Coach Painter has even said publicly that Hummel will be questionable for the remainder of the season.
My advice for gamblers would be to stay away from Purdue when it comes to betting for or against them. There are plenty of games each night to choose from without trying to force a play on Purdue. Hummel is the best player in the league and this is not football, where teams can overcome injuries and not lose a beat. You only have five players on the court and if you best one is one the bench, Purdue does not have the capabilities to go far into the tournament. Sure, they can still beat the Iowas and Indianas of the Big Ten without him, but I highly doubt they will be able to cover very many double-digit spreads.
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