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Opening Odds and Game Preview: #4 Purdue vs. Michigan

Purdue and Michigan will play their first of two games in six weeks at Mackey Arena on Saturday.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Purdue Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no way around it. The Michigan Wolverines are in the middle of a difficult and disappointing season under Coach Juwan Howard.

The loss of an early lottery pick, Franz Wagner, and lead guard Mike Smith, has not been offset by a talented but flawed collection of talented freshman.

Caleb Houston is an NBA prospect with a lot of length, athleticism, and a good looking jump shot, but his all-around game has not been impressive. He likes to shoot, and past that, he hasn’t shown much else to his offensive game with a 7% assist rate and nearly 20% turnover rate while shooting under 50% from the field.

Devante’ Jones and Eli Brooks are experienced, but not nearly the playmakers Michigan has had in the past to rely on running one of the country’s most deadly high pick and roll action that gets Michigan into their ball moving and dynamic offense.

Hunter Dickenson is still around and thank goodness for Coach Howard because the big man is his do everything focal point in the post. He’s averaging 17.5 points and 8.2 rebounds a game, but is only averaging 2 assists a game. He simply doesn’t have the shot makers and talent around him that he had last year. He’s a great post player, a surprising athlete, and one of the best big men in the country, but he’s not a game wrecker in the way of Kofi Cockburn. He doesn’t dominate the defensive end and his 59% from the field is good, but not the kind of numbers inside that can force a defensive into a total panic when he gets the ball.

And so Michigan is 11-8 overall with a 5-4 record in the Big Ten.

But they’re playing their best basketball of late, winning 4 of their last 5 with a marquee double-digit victory at Assembly Hall.

But even with the recent success, and an uptick in their offensive performance, their defense has still struggled. Their guards are small and they lack elite protection inside. They’re barely a top-100 defense in the country according to KenPom.

Which puts them about on par with Purdue’s defensive performance.

The difference? Purdue is coming back home after a nearly 48 hour delay getting back home from Minnesota with the best offense in the country.

Purdue has a big that should be able to defend Dickenson 1 on 1 in Zach Edey, and a second Center that can challenge a bench of bigs that aren’t nearly as experienced or talented as Trevion Williams. This is the Purdue dilemma that Illinois found out the high way. If you are used to play through the post, it’s probably going to be a long night for you.

But Purdue has maybe even a bigger edge on the perimeter. Jaden Ivey is really hitting his stride of late. He’s dropped 21 points in three of his last four games, and is starting to take over games with his athleticism and pace. He’s shooting an absurd 43% from three. He’s becoming unguardable at just the right time for Coach Painter.

Sasha Stefanovic is quietly been one of the best off guards in the conference and country, capable of attacking inside on smaller guys and knocking down shots as one of the nation’s most elite sharp shooters.

Purdue’s one weakness in the season has been point guard play. Eric Hunter Jr. stepped into the starting lineup in place of Isaiah Thompson against Minnesota and it paid instant dividends. He had, maybe, his best game of his career. He scored 20 points and has hit 7 three-pointers in his last two games. If Purdue can add another dynamic guard to their rotation with Hunter Jr. coming back into his sophomore form, this Purdue team might find another gear to an offense that was already the best in the nation.

It will be a tough task for both teams playing a lot of games in not many days. But this one will be in Mackey and Purdue will look to pick up their 5th straight win with an offense that’s somehow still finding new highs.

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)