Big Ten Championship Preview


The Purdue Boilermakers have caught a couple of breaks on their way to Sunday's Big 10 Championship game in Indianapolis. They were supposed to play Iowa in the quarterfinals...but then Iowa was upset by Illinois. They were bracketed to play regular season conference champion Indiana in the semifinals. But, the Hoosiers fell to Michigan in surprising fashion. It wasn't a pure walkover because Purdue still had to go out and beat Illinois and Michigan (in letdown spots off dramatic upsets!). They did so comfortably...and now line up with #2 seed Michigan State (and #2 in the national AP poll) for all the Big 10 marbles.

Before looking at JIM HURLEY'S key indicator stats in that title tilt, let's quickly review the key boxscore stats from Saturday's semi's...

Purdue 76, Michigan 59
Two-Point Shooting: Michigan 47%, Purdue 58%
Three-Pointers: Michigan 6/25, Purdue 4/12
Free Throws: Michigan 7/12, Purdue 14/18
Rebounds Michigan 26, Purdue 41
Turnovers: Michigan 8, Purdue 12
Phantom Score: Michigan 60, Purdue 91

A relatively easy win, made easier by Purdue's huge rebounding edge. That was the secret behind the Phantom score blowout (two-point scoring plus rebounding). The Boilermakers didn't do much from long range, and didn't force many turnovers from a team that was trying to play catch up the whole way. But, the battles near the rim went Purdue's way and made victory almost a foregone conclusion.

Michigan State 64, Maryland 61
Two-Point Shooting: Maryland 31%, Michigan State 42%
Three-Pointers: Maryland 8/22, Michigan State 8/19
Free Throws: Maryland 17/21, Michigan State 14/15
Rebounds Maryland 31, Michigan State 38
Turnovers: Maryland 6, Michigan State 13
Phantom Score: Maryland 51, Michigan State 64

Grinder of a game. Coach Izzo knows how to win grinders! Though, he was favored by seven here and had to sweat the ending. Congrats to all of you who were on the right side along with NETWORK. You can see that Sparty played great inside defense...but almost gave away the game with a big turnover disadvantage. That almost trumped a clear edge in Phantom Score (a stat which usually tracks the superior team in a matchup) Both teams play physically. Maryland has to be careful with foul trouble in the Dance. Only a handful of true thrillers this week across the national landscape. This one sure felt like March Madness in terms of intensity and physicality.

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency
Purdue: 116.0 per 100 possessions (#18 in the nation)
Michigan State: 122.1 per 100 possessions (#1 in the nation)

As we move to JIM HURLEY'S key indicator stats, the "adjusted" efficiency numbers are from college basketball stat guru Ken Pomeroy (who posts his numbers for the public at You can see that Purdue typically does a good job at making the most of their possessions. Unfortunately, generic Big 10 Dance-goers are often overrated in Pomeroy's stats. Purdue gets its first chance TODAY to show that they can compete well vs. quality on a neutral court in March. Would you have guessed Michigan State had the most efficient offense in the nation entering Saturday's action?! Sure, they're grinders...but they're so effective within that style that they grade out very efficiently.

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency
Purdue: 95.5 per 100 possessions (#24 in the nation)
Michigan State: 95.3 per 100 possessions (#23 in the nation)

Both championship entries are better on offense than in defense, which usually isn't a great harbinger for the Dance. Remember that ranking in the top 25 or top 40 is stellar when you're talking about 300+ teams in a national sampling, but less scary when you're down to the teams most likely to win a National Championship. Michigan State did do well protecting the rim Saturday vs. Maryland in a way that could foreshadow Izzo's standard rate of Dance success.

Pace Ranking
Purdue: #203
Michigan State: #227

Both finalists are slightly below the national average...which means each will be in their comfort zone here in playoff style basketball. Purdue will be helped by a rest advantage because they've had such an easy path. They'll need that help to beat MSU at their own game!

Against the Spread
Purdue: 17-11-1
Michigan State: 16-16

Purdue's cover Saturday pushed them to six games over the .500 mark against market prices. Of course, that's +4.9 units for betting purposes when you account for the 10 percent vigorish. There aren't a lot of great ATS records out there for teams getting respectable seeds in the credit to the Boilers for creating and maintaining a market surprise.

Because of the relatively light Sunday schedule, the Big 10 title tilt will very likely be a part of the NETWORK selection mix for paying customers. You can purchase the final word for Sunday right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453. Today is "Selection Sunday," which makes it a great time to ask about extended service!

Back with you tomorrow with some early Dance notes. Big game previews will begin midweek as we highlight the most appealing prime time TV matchups from March Madness Thursday through Sunday. You've been waiting for WEEKS for this week to arrive. Your wait is over! Be sure you GET THE MONEY with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!

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