There are only a few ranked teams in action around college basketball on Thursday and this writer believes that No. 1 Purdue and No. 8 UCLA might be on upset alert despite being solid favorites on the NCAAB odds.
Fade Top 10 Teams Purdue and UCLA on Road
No. 1 Purdue at Michigan (+5.5)
Big Ten game tips at 9 p.m. ET at Fox Sports 1. This is the only scheduled meeting of the season between the teams. The Boilermakers (19-1) returned to No. 1 in the AP Top 25 on Monday. They come off a 58-55 win over Maryland on Sunday. Purdue became the fifth Big Ten team since 2000 to start a season 19-1 (2019 Michigan; 2013 Michigan; 2011 Ohio State; 2005 Illinois). The 19-1 record is the best 20-game start in Purdue history.
Purdue has held three of its last four opponents to 55 or fewer points (Nebraska – 55; Minnesota – 39; Maryland – 55). Over the last four games, Purdue is holding foes to 53.0 points per game. Over the last four games, Purdue has trailed for a total of 12:41 of a possible 160 minutes. Purdue is now 173-7 (.961) under Matt Painter when holding teams to 59 or fewer points. Purdue has won 17 straight games when holding foes to 59 or fewer points.
Zach Edey scored 24 points with 16 rebounds, two blocks and an assist for his 16th double-double of the season. He already ranks eighth on Purdue’s single-season double-double list. His 28th career double-double are ninth in school history. Edey recorded his 250th rebound of the season in his 19th game. Just eight players since 2010-11 have had more rebounds in their first 19 games of the year. He is the only player since 2010-11 to have 400 points and 250 rebounds through the first 19 games. Edey is the heavy favorite to win the Wooden Award as the nation’s top player. Through his 19 games this year, he has more blocked shots (43) than personal fouls (29).
Purdue’s 5-0 start on the road in Big Ten play is the league’s best since Purdue started 7-0 on the road to start the 2017-18 Big Ten season. A win over Michigan will give Purdue a 9-1 record at the halfway point of the league season. Purdue has had just one loss at the halfway point of league play six times in the last 53 seasons. A win over Michigan would give Purdue wins at Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State for the first time since the 1997-98 season. Purdue hasn’t won on the road at Michigan and Michigan State since the 2010-11 season.
Michigan has a major injury question with the team’s second-best player in Jett Howard. The 6-foot-8 freshman and Michigan’s second-leading scorer injured his left ankle late in the first half of UM’s last game, Sunday’s win over Minnesota, and did not return. He was in a walking boot on the bench during the second half, did not practice on Tuesday or Wednesday, and is currently rehabbing the injury.
Howard has started all 19 games for Michigan, averaging 30.7 minutes per game. He’s second only to Hunter Dickinson in scoring with 14.6 points per game, and is shooting 38 percent from 3. Jett Howard is the son of Coach Juwan Howard.
“In Jett’s mind, he’s saying he’s going to play but it’s all about health, and health is more important than any game. We want to have a healthy Jett out there instead of a guy who’s hobbling. He just wants to be there to help his team because that’s how he’s wired mentally. He’s also a competitor and he wants to win, and he feels that when he’s not playing, he’s not helping the team,” Juwan Howard said Wednesday.
Michigan is 7-1 in its past eight at home vs. Purdue with that loss coming in 2018 by a score of 70-69.
No. 8 UCLA at USC (+4)
Pac-12 game tips at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2. The Bruins go for the sweep of their city rivals as they beat the Trojans 60-58 on Jan. 5. Jaylen Clark knocked down a go-ahead 3-pointer with 14.8 seconds remaining. Clark’s 3-point basket took place nearly 15 seconds after USC had erased an 18-point halftime deficit. The Trojans led 58-56 with 31 seconds to play after Reese Dixon-Waters broke a 56-56 tie with a jumper in the paint. After calling timeout, UCLA advanced down the court and Clark missed a 3-point attempt. David Singleton grabbed the offensive rebound and swung the ball back out to Clark, who drilled the game-winning shot.
The Bruins (17-3) had a 14-game winning streak snapped on Saturday, 58-52 at Arizona. The winning streak was the program’s longest since the 2007-08 season. UCLA trailed by 12 points with two minutes left in the contest, but put together a late charge to make it close. Starting with an Adem Bona dunk at the 1:50 mark, the Bruins scored eight unanswered points to cut the deficit to 56-52 with 26 seconds remaining. UCLA could get no closer on its final offensive possession, however.
UCLA has limited the opposition to fewer than 70 points in each of the last 15 games. UCLA ranks No. 11, nationally, in fewest points allowed per game (59.8) and No. 29 in 3-PT percentage defense (29.6%). The Bruins have committed fewer turnovers than their opponent in all 20 contests this season. UCLA has gone 6-3 in nine games played away from home this season. The Bruins are 11-0 at home.
USC (14-6) is 10-0 this season when the tip is set for 7 p.m. PT or later. USC has held 12 of its 20 opponents this season to under 40 percent shooting. USC is holding its opponents to a 38.5 shooting percentage this season, 10th in the country. Over the last four seasons, USC’s defense has held the opposition to 38.8 FG percentage, 3rd in the country. The Trojans have 112 blocks this season, led by Joshua Morgan’s 51 blocks. USC is averaging 5.6 blocks per game, tied for 13th in the country.
USC is 9-1 at the Galen Center this season, losing the opener to FGCU on Nov. 7, then winning the next 9 games. It’s USC’s longest single-season home winning streak since beginning the 2016-17 season 9-0 at the Galen Center. The last time USC won 10 or more in a row at home in a single season was the 2015-16 season when it won the first 15 games.
The Bruins have compiled an all-time record of 146-114 against USC in a series that began in 1927-28. UCLA is seeking its first win against USC at the Galen Center since March 3, 2018 (UCLA won, 83-72).
- Michigan and USC against the spread
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