College Basketball Betting: Purdue at Wisconsin Preview
by Matt Severance - 1/8/2010
When choosing the game of the day in college basketball on Saturday, it really came down to three matchups that featured two Top 25 teams: No. 4 Purdue at No. 20 Wisconsin, No. 5 Duke at No. 17 Georgia Tech or No. 13 Connecticut at No. 12 Georgetown.
I chose the Boilermakers and Badgers, despite the usual ugly play in the Big Ten, because I believe Purdue falls from the ranks of the unbeaten in this one. This game has opened as a pick’em.
Wisconsin (12-3, 8-5 ATS) looked fairly awful on Tuesday night in scoring 47 points in a loss at Michigan State. Star point guard Trevon Hughes had his worst game of the season, scoring just seven points on 3-of-13 shooting. The Badgers as a team shot 33 percent from the field and barely 21 percent from the three-point line.
But UW never beats ranked teams on the road (lost four straight and five of six). But in home or neutral-site games against ranked teams this year, Wisconsin is 3-0, including a home win over Duke. The Badgers are 9-0 at home this season (6-1 ATS) and have won 14 in a row there. In addition, UW has won eight of its past 10 against Purdue in Madison and is 13-5 under coach Bo Ryan at home against ranked Big Ten teams all-time.
Purdue (14-0, 7-6-1 ATS), meanwhile, really hasn’t been challenged since an eight-point win at Alabama on Dec. 12. That’s saying something, considering the Boilermakers have played West Virginia since then, spanking the then-unbeaten Mountaineers by 15 on New Year’s Day in West Lafayette. Last time out, also at home, Purdue beat Minnesota by 19 to improve to 14-0 for the second time in school history.
And the Boilermakers actually have beaten Wisconsin four games in a row, including two wins in a row at the Kohl Center. So a win Saturday would make history as no team has ever won three straight there – think Ryan will use that as motivation? The Badgers have lost just five Big Ten games ever at the Kohl Center under Ryan.
It’s just not easy to win your first two road games in conference play as Purdue is attempting – the Boilers haven’t done it since 1999-2000. And Purdue has played just two road games so far overall this year (1-1 ATS) and Alabama and Iowa aren’t quite Wisconsin.
Certainly look for this game to be low scoring, as the Badgers entered the week No. 4 in the nation in scoring defense and the Boilermakers No. 27. Purdue thrives on forcing turnovers – leading the Big Ten at a plus-6.8 margin – but the Badgers are terrific at hanging on to the ball, ranking No. 2 in the country in turnovers per game. And UW is a better rebounding team than Purdue, and the Badgers are 10-1 this year when outrebounding foes.
The one concern is that Purdue will stick defensive stud Chris Kramer on Hughes, and if Hughes struggles Saturday like he did against the Spartans, then Purdue will go 15-0 for the first time. And Badgers forward Jon Leuer, the team’s leading scorer, must stay out of foul trouble that has plagued him recently.
But the Badgers have one of the best home-court advantages in the country, and Purdue is caught in a bit of a trap game here with a quick trip to Madison and then a home game Tuesday with Ohio State (and Evan Turner).
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