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Opening Odds and Game Preview: #4 Purdue vs Minnesota

Purdue fans will have to confront their most haunted destination, “The Barn,” as Purdue travels to Minnesota.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Purdue Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Lil Pitino is gone and so are most the players you might recognize from Minnesota basketball over the last few years.

In their place, Coach Ben Johnson and a collection of transfers.

Jamison Battle and Payton Willis combine to be one of the most potent one-two punches in the B10, averaging nearly 18 and 17 points respectively, but the Golden Gophers season has been disappointingly predictable in an opening Big Ten schedule that’s been nothing short of brutal.

Coach Johnson’s Gophers have two good wins on the season, both on the road: @Mississippi St. and @Michigan.

Besides that, they’ve won where they were supposed to win and lost where they were supposed to lose.

Unfortunately they’ve played pretty much everyone of the top Big Ten teams to this point: Michigan St. twice, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio St., and Wisconsin. They lost to each top 30 team in KenPom.

They now get to play the one team on top of the Big Ten they haven’t played, #4 Purdue.

Purdue is... celebrating? reeling? asking why does good stuff keep getting hidden in some alarming late game comebacks?

Purdue just had a thrilling last second win against Ohio St. again where Jaden Ivey, bursting star and likely top-5 NBA pick, drained another absolute dagger at the end of regulation against the Buckeyes.

But Purdue spent most that game dominating Holtmann’s squad before squandering a 20 point lead in the last 14 minutes where they gave up 46 points to a team that had only scored 35 points up to that point.

It was a perfect representation of Purdue’s season: absolute domination turned to unfathomable squandering of big leads.

Purdue’s offense is unquestionable. They are the best offensive team in the country. They are both one of the most consistent offenses in the country play to play, with a crazy point per possession of over 1.2, and one of the most dangerous and capable teams of going on a big run.

But their defense. It’s a problem at the worst times. It is now outside Kenpom’s top 80 defensive efficiency teams. It has blown leads to good teams, blown games to bad teams, and is the only thing holding Purdue back from looking like an absolute favorite in March.

Minnesota does not have much on paper to challenge Purdue. Their two best players are dwarfed by Purdue’s big men who should be able to dominate inside. Ivey and back court Sasha Stefanovic are creating a beautiful synergy on the floor, harking back to the days of Carsen Edwards and Ryan Cline. Their point guard play is improving, evident of Eric Hunter Jr. stepping back into the starting lineup for Coach Matt Painter in this game alongside Ivey who had been moved to the bench while recovering from a hip injury.

But this defense continues to puzzle itself and fall apart in late situations.

This is another no win game for Purdue, one of the last couple on the schedule, and the last one before a hellish stretch where they’ll be asked to play a whole lot of basketball in a few days. Purdue has one choice in this game - dominate. Don’t let up.

Purdue has to find the ability to keep a lead and give themselves an easy win on the road in the Big Ten to prove itself capable of getting over that last, late hurdle.

Easier said than done.

Odds provided by DraftKings.

Basketball GameDay Vitals

St. Peter's Peacocks Record: 21-11, 14-6 MAAC
St. Peter's Peacocks Record: 21-11, 14-6 MAAC
From: Jersey City, NJ
Game Location: Philadelphia, PA
Venue: Wells Fargo Center (19,500)
Odds: Purdue by 12.5
Date & Time: Friday, March 25, 2022, 7:09pm ET
Streaming Radio TuneIn
Live Stats: Purdue Sports
KenPom 101
NET 124
Blog Representation: None
2020-21 Record 14-11, 10-8
Postseason Result: None
NCAA Tournament History: 4th appearance. This is the first season they have won a game. 2017 CIT Champions
Series With Purdue: Purdue leads 1-0
Last Purdue win: 65-43 in Chicago, IL on 3/18/2011 (NCAA Tournament First Round)
Last St. Peter's win: None
Coach: Shaheen holloway (63-55 in 4th year at St. Peter's)