Yale Bulldogs vs. Purdue Boilermakers Odds, Picks, Predictions: Back Underdog in Friday NCAA Tournament Matchup
Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Jaden Ivey (Purdue)
Yale vs. Purdue Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Yale snuck into the NCAA Tournament by stealing the Ivy bid from league favorites Princeton in the conference tournament title game on Sunday.
For a mid-major that lacks size, there’s few tougher matchups than Purdue’s post offense, but that’s the challenge facing the Bulldogs Thursday afternoon.
Purdue struggled to finish the season, especially on the defensive end. The Boilermakers finished the regular season with losses to Michigan State and Wisconsin, and won a close game vs. Indiana.
In the Big Ten Tournament, Purdue struggled with both Michigan State and Penn State and then Iowa handled it in the Big Ten title game.
The Boilermakers have failed to cover the closing number in 10 consecutive games, a sign of how overrated they’ve been in the market down the stretch.
From a potential upset point of view, it’s very hard to see how Yale has a path to victory. But can the Bulldogs stay inside the huge number against a Purdue defense that continues to underwhelm?
Yale spent the entire season as the second-best team in the Ivy League, a clear step behind Princeton. For fans who thought the Selection Committee didn’t give much weight to the games this past weekend, Yale’s seeding is a good piece of evidence.
This 14 seed feels like it had Princeton’s name on it until the Bulldogs stole the Ivy League title game.
Seeding aside, Yale has some weapons in its arsenal. Azar Swain is one of the premier shot-makers in this Round of 64. He uses some serious know-how and wiggle to get to spots where he can fire up a fadeaway, which he makes at alarmingly high rates.
Around him though, Yale doesn’t have much in the way of shooting. The Bulldogs had the lowest 3-point rate and percentage of points scored on 3s in the Ivy League.
Instead, the rest of Yale’s roster is built to crash the glass and attack the paint. The Bulldogs led the Ivy in offensive rebounding rate and free throw rate.
Yale’s defense may have ranked atop the Ivy, though that still leaves it ill-prepared for power-conference size and speed. The Bulldogs’ frontline maxes out at 6-foot-7.
That’s troubling, considering their opponent.
Purdue is fun. The Boilermakers are electric offensively. They have a two-man interior duo of Trevion Williams and Zach Edey, the former of which is a post-up maestro and the latter of which is 7-foot-4.
Jaden Ivey is this season’s college hoops darling. He looks like Ja Morant, explosive off the dribble, can dunk three feet above the rim and can shoot well. He averaged 17.4 points per game this season.
Purdue is not fundamental. The Boilermakers cannot guard ball-screens. They finished 238th nationally in pick-and-roll ShotQuality PPP allowed and 10th in the Big Ten in cutting ShotQuality PPP allowed.
All opponents have to do is run that set over and over and over, and Matt Painter will have no answers.
In the Michigan State upset, Sparty had a 20:10 assist-to-turnover ratio. That’s unsustainable in a tournament setting.
Anyone in Purdue’s draw can run ball-screens and keep up with the Boilers. Yale can do that, too.
Yale vs. Purdue Betting Pick
Purdue should be focused here, given its upset loss to North Texas in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament last year.
The Boilermakers should dominate the glass and should score at will on the interior. All of that rules out the potential of an upset, especially given that Yale wants to play up tempo and doesn’t fit any of the profiles of a team we want to bet on to pull off a shocker.
But the Boilermakers aren’t going to get enough stops to cover a number this big. Swain and Yale run a lot of ball-screen offense, and Purdue’s ball-screen defense has been its biggest weakness on that end of the floor.
Yale isn’t a great shooting team generally, but Purdue concedes so many open looks that I’m expecting the Bulldogs to be able to produce enough offense to stay inside the number.
Purdue forces almost no turnovers, Yale protects the ball pretty well, and despite Purdue’s elite offense in transition, the Bulldogs’ strength defensively is actually guarding in transition.
While I don’t think Yale is live for a 14-over-3-seed upset, the Bulldogs’ offense will score enough on the Boilermakers’ porous defense to stay inside the number.