5 PUR vs 12 UALR
Time: 3:30 PM CT
Spread: PUR -9
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
Purdue finished the regular season 26-8 with a third place finish in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers enter this season with a No. 5 seed, and certainly the inevitable 5 versus 12 upset factor is in play, but Purdue is 9 point favorites in the matchup against University of Arkansas-Little Rock. The over/under for the game is 128, as set by college basketball oddsmakers at 5dimes.
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Purdue is the No. 12 ranked team in the country, but it lost 66-62 to the Michigan State Trojans in the Big Ten tournament final. Purdue shot just 34 percent in the game and leading scorer Vince Edwards was just 6 of 18 from the field and 0 of 6 from three-point range. Edwards averaged 11 points per game this season on 45 percent shooting while stroking 40.6 percent from three.
The Boilermakers were led by A.J. Hammons, who is expected to be drafted in June. He averaged 14.9 points, eight rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game, anchoring a tough Boilermakers defense. Purdue can point up points, though, given that it has 10 players averaging five points per game or more, and the team was good for 78 points per game this season.
Prior to the loss to Michigan State, Purdue had a five-game win streak with wins over Maryland, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan. Hammons was solid during the streak and blew up in the 76-59 win over Michigan on Mar 12. Hammons had 27 points on 11 of 17 shooting while also snagging 11 rebounds in the game. The senior is averaging eight boards per game and is a true seven-footer who has the agility to thrive in the new up tempo NBA.
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Arkansas Little Rock finished the season 29-4 and won the Sun Belt conference. Of course, the record is quite deceiving given that the team faced no opponents of consequence the entire season. They closed the season by winning seven of its last eight contests, including a 70-50 win over Louisiana Monroe in the Sun Belt conference championship.
Roger Woods shot 8 of 10 from the field en route to 19 points and nine rebounds and Marcus Johnson Jr. hit 5 of 8 including two threes to finish with 14 points and six boards. Johnson is a diminutive guard but a good team leader. He finished the season with averages of 12.7 points per game, three rebounds and 1.6 assists. Johnson scored 21 in the 73-68 win over Texas State on Feb. 27, hitting 7 of 9 including 5 of 6 from behind the arc, en route to 21 points and two assists.
Arkansas Little Rock seems in over their heads, but it is tough to assess the chances of a team that faced no quality opponents all season. 29-4 is good, but maybe it should be expected of a relatively talented team in a weak conference. Purdue should be able to milk Hammons for a big night, because there is really no one on the Trojans roster capable of defending a player of his caliber.
Arkansas Little Rock is a semi-dangerous 12 seed, but it does not seem likely that it is able to emerge as a victor in this one. Being nearly double-digit underdogs is a heavy burden given the nature of how tough this tournament is, and the fact that the Trojans have not faced a test of this level all season really does not bode well, no matter how impressive 29-4 might seem ostensibly.
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