Purdue vs. Minnesota NCAA Basketball Preview

Trevion Williams #50 of the Purdue Boilermakers dunks the ball. Michael Hickey/Getty Images/AFP
Trevion Williams #50 of the Purdue Boilermakers dunks the ball. Michael Hickey/Getty Images/AFP


Looking to curtail a slide that has seen them drop five of their last seven, the Minnesota Golden Gophers host the Purdue Boilermakers in a happy hour matchup on Thursday’s college basketball odds board.


Purdue Boilermakers vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers

 at Williams Arena

Minnesota began a downward spiral shortly after the Big Ten schedule got underway, and has gone from a surprise entry into the top 25 rankings down to 38th on the latest KenPom chart. The Golden Gophers are just 5-7 in conference play, but still well entrenched as a No. 9 seed according to the Joe Lunardi’s latest NCAA Tournament projections. With one of the least-experienced rosters in the country, Purdue has been trending upward after winning six of its last eight to sit two games of the conference lead as well as getting a No. 5 seed nod from Lunardi.

Last Four Meetings Have Cashed ‘Over’ Tickets

The late-afternoon contest will be televised by ESPN2, and despite the Golden Gophers’ recent slump and Boilermakers’ surge, Minnesota is drawing a 3½-point chalk line at Bet365. Thursday’s total is 139.

In addition to trying to slow their recent slide, the Golden Gophers will be looking to exact a little revenge from an 81-62 loss at Purdue less than two weeks ago. Online sportsbooks favored the Boilermakers by 2½ in West Lafayette, and they had to overcome a 14-point deficit in the first half to get the win and cover. Minnesota eventually withered after a fast start, and was beaten 44-27 on the glass while Purdue canned 8-of-10 from 3-point range in the second half. The final had just enough to scratch ‘over’ a 141-point total.

Depending which of the schools you ask, this is either the 178th or 192nd meeting. Minnesota lists Purdue with a 97-80 all-time lead in the rivalry, while the Boilermakers claim a 106-95 advantage at their website. It has been nearly two years since the two met in Minneapolis where the Golden Gophers claimed a 73-69 upset as 5-point underdogs, that game also just barely skipping past a 140-point total.

Boilers Have Covered Last Four Road Tilts

Matt Painter’s troops had won four in a row on the B1G highway before dropping a 61-60 decision at Maryland on Groundhog Day. The Boilermakers held a 5-point lead with 1:43 left on the clock, but came up empty after that as the Terrapins scored the game’s final six points. They still managed to cover as 3-point underdogs, their fourth consecutive road cover against the NCAA basketball odds.

Purdue bounced back quickly from the setback with a 75-70 triumph at home this past weekend against Northwestern. Favored by 8, the Boilermakers never trailed in the contest, but also never could put a pesky Wildcats team away. The outcome turned on the free throw line where Purdue aced 23 of its 24 attempts, outscoring Northwestern by 15 at the charity stripe. Freshman Jaden Ivey led four Boilermakers in double figures with 20, also nabbing seven boards.

Gophers Have Covered 7 of Last 8 at Home

Minnesota’s struggles have been away from home, six if the seven defeats coming away from Minneapolis with the lone exception being a very poor performance at Williams Arena against Maryland. This will be the Golden Gophers’ seventh Big Ten home contest, and they’ve gone 5-1 straight up and on the sports betting boards in the previous six.

Defense has been behind the winning home record, with the last five games all falling short of the totals. That was the case Monday when Nebraska came to Minneapolis where the Golden Gophers administered a 79-61 beating on the Cornhuskers. Favored by 11½, Richard Pitino’s crew never trailed, overcoming some poor shooting by yanking down 46 boards and forcing Nebraska into committing 18 turnovers. Marcus Carr led the charge for Minnesota with a game-high 21, dishing eight assists and going a perfect 6-for-6 at the free throw line. Brandon Johnson contributed a double-double, seven of his 10 boards coming on the offensive end.

This one sets up to be a closely-fought battle with the Boilermakers having enjoyed life on the road in recent weeks while the Golden Gophers have done a good job defending their home turf. I’ll side with a Purdue team with my free college basketball pick and take the points.

NCAAB Pick: Purdue +3½ (-110) at Bet365

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