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Purdue Boilermakers vs. Connecticut Huskies Preview (2009-03-25)
Sports Handicappers Betting Articles:Matt Fargo
Purdue Boilermakers vs. Connecticut Huskies Thursday, March 26, 2009 7:07 PM ET

The Betting Numbers

This game opened at -6.5 and is staying pretty steady with the line moving to -7 in some places. The total has also remained stable, opening at 134.5 and holding on that number.

Series History

This will be the fifth meeting between Purdue and Connecticut, but the first since 1992. The Boilermakers have won all previous four meetings.

The Teams

Connecticut was the preseason favorite to win the Big East Conference and it nearly met expectations, finishing a game behind Louisville. Pundits are once again saying that the Huskies could be the team to beat based on two dominant performances to open the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies steamrolled UT-Chattanooga in the first round and followed that up with another blowout against Texas A&M in the second round. The offense has been unstoppable, scoring 103 and 92 points while the defense allowed the two opponents to shoot a combined 33.3 percent from the floor (43-129).

Connecticut is now 15-2 away from home on the season and of those 15 wins, seven victories came against teams that are in the 64-team field as well as four others against teams that played in other postseason tournaments. The Huskies are ranked third in shooting defense in the nation, allowing 37.4 percent from the floor and they are now first in the country in rebounding margin at +11, passing Michigan St. for the top spot. If there is a liability, it comes from the free throw line where Connecticut is hitting just 67.6 percent on the season including a disturbing 60 percent over the last five games.

When Purdue is healthy, it is one of the tougher teams in the country and it cannot be overlooked to pull off a huge upset. The Boilermakers won their first two games in tight fashion, defeating Northern Iowa, although that game was not as close as the final score indicates and then taking out Washington after nearly blowing a big lead. Purdue has now won five straight games, all on a neutral floor to improve to 11-6 away from home. Momentum is big this time of year and Purdue definitely has that going.

When Purdue clicks on offense, it is tough to beat because the defense comes to play in every game. That has been the case in the first two games of the tournament as the Boilermakers have held their two opponents to 39.7 percent shooting (48-121). The offense has yet to find its rhythm as Purdue is shooting only 40 percent (46-115) through the first two games and it certainly won’t be any easier here. Robbie Hummel has scored only 16 total points so his offense needs to turn around. He has been held to single-digits in seven of his 12 games since returning from injury.

Against the Numbers

The Huskies, being a high profile team are often overvalued and it showed at times with their numbers. Connecticut is 15-14 against the number including an 11-13 ATS mark as a favorite. They have had more success on the road than at home, going 17-6 ATS in road and neutral court games. Fading the Huskies down the stretch would have paid huge dividends as they went a money-burning 1-6 ATS in their final seven games prior to the start of the Big Dance although they have easily covered the two big numbers since. The Huskies are 5-5 ATS as a single-digit favorite this season

Purdue has been a disappointment this season for its backers as it is 16-17 against the number. After a four-game ATS winning streak to end January, the Boilermakers are 6-9 ATS in their last 15 games despite going 3-2 ATS since postseason play started. Purdue has been an underdog only three times this season, going 1-2 against the number with the lone ATS victory being against Washington last time out. It has covered five of its last six tournament games as an underdog of fewer than seven points.

Intangibles

The Huskies are 27-4 in first and second round NCAA Tournament games under head coach Jim Calhoun… The Huskies' 82-point combined margin of victory was the most in the opening rounds since Duke dispatched its first two opponents by the same total in 1999…Travel could be on Purdue’s side as it stayed out west after playing in Portland, being in Arizona since Sunday and has been working out on the Arizona St. campus… Purdue played four games against teams seeded No. 2 or better in the NCAA Tournament and went 1-3 in those games (defeating Michigan St. at home).

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