The Purdue Boilermakers have reached the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2010, knocking off Vermont and Iowa State in the process. This is important for Purdue because they blew big leads against both Cincinnati (2015) and Arkansas-Little Rock (2016) in the last two tournaments.
It seemed like the Boilermakers were destined to lose another late lead against the Cyclones. But they were able to rally and beat Iowa State 80-76 to move on.
Kansas is in a more familiar spot, having reached the Sweet Sixteen this season and the Elite Eight last year. They’ve made it here with a 100-62 win over UC Davis and a 90-70 victory over Michigan State. Many believe that Kansas has the talent to go all the way – as reiterated by our Sweet 16 overview. But they’ll have to get by a solid Purdue squad to do it.
That said, let’s discuss how this matchup will play out and offer some betting advice.
Purdue (27-7) vs. Kansas (30-4); Thursday (Mar 23 @ 9:35pm)
GTBets.eu Betting Line: Kansas -5; Purdue +5
Why the Boilermakers will Cover the Spread
Winners of the Big Ten regular season crown, Purdue has been strong all season. They’ve leaned on Big Ten Player of the Year Caleb Swanigan (18.5 PPG, 12.6 RPG), who’s averaging 18 points, 13 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 2 blocks in two tournament contests.
But this isn’t just a one-man team since forward Vincent Edwards (12.7 PPG, 5.0 RPG) has stepped up. He’s shooting over 60% in the tourney, while averaging 21 points, 7.5 boards, and 3.5 assists. Edwards can disappear for stretches, but that hasn’t happened in the Boilermakers’ tournament run so far. If he can come up big against Kansas, then they have a real shot to win.
Freshman point guard Carsen Edwards (10.4 PPG) is another X-factor since he’s explosive and can get hot behind the arc. He’s played average in the tournament, but could be due for a big game.
Another key for the Boilermakers will be their 3-point shooting. They ranked No. 1 in the Big Ten in this category and can beat any team when they’re on. Junior guard Dakota Mathias was the conference’s best three-point shooter, hitting 45.8% of his attempts. Vincent Edwards, Carsen Edwards, Ryan Cline, P.J. Thompson, and Swanigan can also hit from deep when given the opportunity.
With so many shooters to cover and solid inside play from Swanigan, Purdue is a team that’s difficult to cover – even for a talented Jayhawks team. Assuming Kansas doesn’t bring their A-game, then this will be a closer-than-anticipated contest.
Above all, the biggest reason to bet on the Boilermakers is that they’re 7-3-2 against the spread (ATS) over their last 12 contests.
Why the Jayhawks will Cover the Spread
Along with North Carolina, Kansas is a favorite to win the tournament. Truth be told, they’re probably expecting to meet UNC in the Final Four since they’re the lone remaining No. 1 seeds, and are on the same side of the bracket.
But their immediate focus is on a Purdue team that’ll look to pull off the upset. This will be hard, given that Kansas is led by Frank Mason III (20.8 PPG, 5.2 APG), the leading contender for the Naismith Award. Not only is Mason capable of taking over games, but he’s also efficient, hitting 47.2% of his three-point attempts.
Perhaps even more important is the senior point guard’s clutch factor since the Jayhawks are 9-1 in games decided by three points or less. If you’re betting on Kansas to cover the spread, you don’t want to see it get to this point. But just know that Mason won’t crack under the pressure when things get tough.
The team’s most-talented player is forward Josh Jackson, who averages 16.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks. The 6’8″ freshman is a top-5 projected lottery pick, and his talent is crucial to what Kansas does.
Wing player Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (9.7 PPG) is another shooter on this roster, hitting 39.5% of his attempts from beyond the arc. 6’10” forward Landen Lucas steadies the Jayhawks down low, averaging 8.6 rebounds per game.
The one big thing that Kansas can do is overwhelm opponents with their scoring. They’re averaging 95 points in the tournament so far, and we don’t see them going under 80 against Purdue. This gives Kansas an excellent chance to cover the spread if the Boilermakers aren’t near perfect on offense.
The Jayhawks are slightly worse than Purdue with their ATS record, going 6-4-1 in their last 11 games.
Final Thoughts on Kansas vs. Purdue Betting
The Boilermakers are 8-5-1 ATS against opponents who made the tournament, while Kansas is 7-6-1. Based on the first two rounds of play, many will bet on the Jayhawks here. But based on ATS trends, and the fact that Purdue is the toughest team Kansas has faced so far, we’d lay our money on the Boilermakers covering +5.
Final Score Prediction: Kansas wins 81-77