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Following a disappointing finish in Minneapolis, MSU returns home to take on 7-6 Purdue.
This setting is similar to Texas, in that the Boilermakers have been a bit underwhelming on the season, but are coming off a big home win. Texas had blown out North Carolina, while Purdue just defeated Illinois at home. The Spartans will still be favored in this game, obviously, but maybe it catches the attention of players and fans a bit more.
The Boilermakers have some pretty ugly losses: vs. Bucknell, vs. Oregon State, at Eastern Michigan (!), but do come into this game having won three in a row to get back over .500, and now they've got some confidence.
Purdue has had some trouble offensively, but they still follow the Matt Painter recipe: They don't turn the ball over much (19.5 percent, No. 115) and they grab offensive rebounds (38.6 percent, No. 31). Given the amount of offensive rebounds MSU surrendered to Minnesota, this will be something the Spartans have to get back control over.
As for what they don't do well, the eFG% is just 45.5, good for No. 257. Feel free to sag or play under the screen, because the Boilers shoot 27.9 just percent from 3, which is No. 312. They also aren't particularly good from the free-throw line.
Defensively, it's Purdue, so you know they bring it. No. 40 in adjusted D and an opponent eFG% of 43 percent, which is No. 32. They also clear the boards on the defensive end, allowing opponents to grab just 26.5 of their misses. Perhaps the good news for MSU is that, like a typical MSU defense, the Boilers don't produce many steals (8.2 percent). They're about producing bad shots.
As for the personnel, Terone Johnson is the No. 1 guy. He leads the team with 13.6 points, is second in assists and grabs 4.8 rebounds per game. But generally, this team gets its production from a variety of people. Nine players average double-digit minutes.
D.J. Byrd is the 3-point specialist (84 attempts), but he's made just 32 percent on the year. Inside, A.J. Hammonds, leads the team with just 5.8 rebounds per game, along with 9.4 points. Throw in Ronnie Johnson's 8.8 points per game, but there isn't much left in terms of guys who stick out. This team has lost a lot of talent over the past few years, and it's rebuilding a bit.
KenPom pegs this as a 67-57 MSU win, giving the Spartans an 85 percent chance for the win. Unless MSU craps the bed on the glass, it's hard to see the Boilers winning this one.
Purdue beat Illinois because it shut down the perimeter-oriented Illini, whose starting guards shot a combined 12-for-32. MSU doesn't win with its jump-shooting. I expect MSU to go inside plenty with Nix and Payne.
This starts a four-game stretch where MSU is favored by KenPom in all four (Purdue, at Iowa, Nebraska, at Penn State) before being the underdog in the next three (Ohio State, at Wisconsin, at Indiana). This is the easy stretch, and if MSU wants to win the Big Ten, it's going to have to win all four. That starts Saturday.