The Boilermakers suffered their first loss of the season at the hands of the Northwestern Wildcats, a 92-88 loss on the road in overtime. The preseason No. 1 via KenPom and several other metrics is now in last place in the Big Ten through one game. And fresh off becoming only the second No. 1 seed to be vanquished in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament last March, will the Boilermakers be able to get over the hump?
The oddsmakers and bettors seem to think so, as Purdue is currently a co-favorite to reach the Final Four in 2024 at DraftKings Sportsbook.
The Purdue model relies almost entirely on Zach Edey, their 7-foot-4 weapon and the reigning Naismith Player of The Year in college basketball. He averages 23.5 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks per game with plenty more shots at the rim altered.
Purdue’s next two highest scorers on the team, Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer, combine to average 23.7 points per game, and the next three leading rebounders in (Smith, Mason Gillis and Caleb Furst) combine for 13.6 rebounds per game.
The difference when he’s on the floor is as stark as for any player in college basketball, but he does only play 29.7 minutes per contest. He’s also second in the nation in Offensive Box Plus-Minus, which defines a player’s contribution compared to an average player when they’re on and off the floor.
And one Edey does not a championship team make, as the Boilermakers got exposed against Northwestern after winning the Maui Classic over three ranked opponents in Gonzaga, Marquette, and Tennessee. Can Iowa hit the same weaknesses, now that someone has laid out the blueprint? The Wildcats won by dominating at the three-point line — Northwestern finished 10-20 from three-point range to just 5-19 for the Boilermakers. Defensively the Wildcats had eight steals to Purdue’s one, and forced 17 total turnovers from the former No. 1 team while conceding just three.
Iowa’s defense ranks outside the top 100 at KenPom, and may be the key to keeping it close here. But they also rank 15th in adjusted offensive efficiency, and eighth in the nation in points per game. Iowa also ranks fifth in the nation in fewest turnovers allowed per possession, and Purdue ranks close to last in the nation in turnovers forced per possession.
At 5-2, the Hawkeyes have fallen to Creighton and Oklahoma, but kept both games within 12 points. If they can do that tonight, that will cover the spread. Iowa has three starters that stand at 6-foot-9 or taller. While they may not be able to stop Zach Edey, Edey also can’t defend all three of them on the other end of the court.
Iowa vs. Purdue Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook
Spread: Purdue -13
Moneyline: Purdue -900, Iowa +600