Michigan heads to West Lafayette this week to take on No. 4 Purdue for a chance to claim its best win of the season. Entering the weekend slate of games each week, The Daily’s basketball beat will predict the outcome of games across college basketball, tallying their records across the season. Here are their predictions:
Last week, as a beat, we went 17-15-8 — that’s a positive number. Spencer failed to get a single Big Ten game right, but Nick and Josh picked up the slack to push the beat away from total embarrassment. Entering our second week of predictions, here’s how we stand:
Michigan at No. 4 Purdue:
Saturday Feb. 5 2:30 pm Michigan at No. 4 Purdue
Michigan doesn’t stand a chance in this game. Purdue’s offensive attack — the best in the country, according to KenPom — will be too much for a porous Michigan defense to handle. The Boilermakers can beat you in a variety of ways, whether it’s guard Jaden Ivey off the dribble, fellow guard Sasha Stefanovic from deep or the two-pronged attack of center Zach Edey and forward Trevion Williams down low, they make other teams pay; and the Wolverines have struggled to defend each of those areas at times this season. Michigan’s only hope is for its offense to return to the form it showed against Maryland and Indiana, but even then, keeping up with Purdue will be a tall task.
In the Preseason AP Top 25 poll, Michigan was ranked No. 6 and Purdue trailed just behind at No. 7 — making this February matchup appear to be a potential Big Ten heavyweight fight. But these teams’ seasons have been diametrically opposed. Purdue is now the No. 4 team in the country and a national title contender, while Michigan is on the outside of the NCAA Tournament bubble looking in. I think Michigan could keep it relatively close with sophomore center Hunter Dickinson on the floor, but the Boilermakers’ combination of Edey and Williams in the paint will ultimately be too much for the Wolverines to handle.
This one might be the easiest pick of the year for me. I don’t think Michigan, at its best, can beat an average showing by Purdue in West Lafayette. For the Wolverines to come back to Ann Arbor with a win, they’ll have to be clicking like they were against Indiana, and the Boilermakers will have to play as poorly as they did at Rutgers or Indiana. For what it’s worth, the KenPom line currently has Purdue -11, and I think Michigan will cover — but I just don’t think a win is realistically in the cards.
Purdue is still the class of the Big Ten. Michigan is very much not. While the Boilermakers certainly aren’t the unbeatable juggernaut that many thought they would be earlier in the season, they are still the much better team, and they pose severe matchup problems for the Wolverines. If Dickinson can stay on the court without fouling, then I think this game stays competitive. But if Dickinson gets sidelined for prolonged stretches with foul trouble once again, Michigan will get run right out of Mackey.
Big Ten picks:
Saturday Feb. 5 noon No. 18 Illinois +1 at Indiana
Saturday Feb. 5 1:00 pm Northwestern -5 at Nebraska
Saturday Feb. 5 4:00 pm No. 13 Michigan State -5 at Rutgers
Saturday Feb. 5 6:00 pm Penn State +8 at No. 11 Wisconsin
Sunday Feb. 6 1:00 pm Maryland +10 at No. 16 Ohio State
Sunday Feb. 6 4:30 pm Minnesota +11 at Iowa
Flavor of the Week picks:
Saturday Feb. 5 noon No. 17 Uconn +7 at No. 12 Villanova
Saturday Feb. 5 4:00 pm No. 8 Baylor +1 at No. 10 Kansas
Saturday Feb. 5 5:00 pm No. 19 USC +11 at No. 7 Arizona
Saturday Feb. 5 6:00 pm No. 9 Duke -3 at North Carolina