Purdue vs. North Texas Odds, Pick, Prediction: How the Mean Green Can Cover in NCAA Tournament
Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: North Texas guard Javion Hamlet
- Purdue will look to avoid a big first-round upset in a difficult matchup against North Texas.
- The Mean Green is coming off a sensational run to win the Conference USA Tournament last week and could make life difficult for the Boilermakers’ offense.
- Our staff breaks down this first-round matchup and why North Texas could cover against Purdue.
North Texas vs. Purdue Odds
|North Texas Odds||+7.5|
|Moneyline||+260 / -335|
|Time||Friday, 7:25 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Thursday evening and via DraftKings|
Despite flying under the radar for most of the Big Ten regular season, No. 20 Purdue has the profile of a team that can make a deep run in March.
The Boilermakers have played 21 Quadrant I/II games and carry the 17th-hardest strength of schedule in college basketball. They have also battled through injuries, finishing the year with a five-game regular season winning streak.
North Texas earned the automatic bid from Conference USA with an impressive four-game run in the end-of-season tournament, including a 61-57 OT upset win over Western Kentucky.
Will the experienced Green Wave team give Purdue a scare, or will the battle-tested Boilermakers blitz North Texas in this No. 4 vs. No. 13 matchup?
Mike Randle: Head coach Matt Painter is one of the country’s most underrated coaches.
The Boilermakers have also enjoyed a ton of tournament success, rarely suffering an early-round upset under Painter’s watch. In 2019, Purdue lost, 80-75, to eventual national champion Virginia, in a game that the Cavaliers needed a Mamadi Diakite buzzer-beater just to force overtime.
Purdue has a pair of superb big men in junior Trevion Williams (15.6 PPG, 9.1 RPG) and 7-foot-4, 285-pound freshman Zach Edey (9.1 PPG, 4.5 PRG).
Williams has been the Boilermakers’ go-to scorer late in games and has usually delivered. Williams dominated Michigan State in East Lansing back on Jan. 8, scoring 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the floor. The 6-foot-10 forward scored almost half of the Boilermakers’ 55 points.
Edey has been one of the most improved players in all of college basketball. He’s scored 10 or more points in six of Purdue’s last eight games. He also shoots 72% from the free-throw line, a rare asset for a seven-foot big man.
Purdue has one of the best 3-point shooters in the country in 6-foot-5 junior Sasha Stefanovic (9.3 PPG, 40.2% 3). Stefanovic was slowed midseason by COVID-19 but has started to return to his regular form, making 6-of-14 3-pointers in consecutive road games against Nebraska and Penn State.
The Boilermakers are getting key contributions from two freshmen guards: Jaden Ivey and Brandon Newman. Newman is shooting 38.6% (39-of-101) from 3 on the season, including 11-of-19 (58%) during Stefanovic’s absence.
Ivey has been Purdue’s most improved player, scoring 11 or more points in the past six games. Ivey scored 19 points, including 4-of-8 from 3 and played 43 minutes in the Boilermakers’ 87-78 OT loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament.
Purdue has shown the ability to compete and win on the road, playing a disproportionate amount of early-season conference games away from Mackey Arena. The Boilermakers had a run of six road games in eight contests during late December/early January. They are battle-tested and ready for the unique challenges in Indianapolis.
Painter’s team has also excelled on the offensive boards, ranking 50th in the country and third within conference play. Williams ranks 13th-best in the country with 3.52 offensive rebounds per game.
With superb inside/outside balance on offense, and a top-25 defensive efficiency rating per KenPom, the Boilermakers have the all-around profile of a 4-seed that can go deep into the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
North Texas Mean Green
Stuckey: North Texas made an improbable run in the Conference USA Tournament last week.
The Mean Green secured the automatic berth by winning four games in four days, capped off by a thrilling overtime win in the championship game after blowing a big lead then making a late, improbable comeback to even get to extra time. It’s even more impressive when you consider that North Texas does not have elite depth.
While the Mean Green aren’t the deepest, this is one of the most experienced teams in the field. They do run efficient offense, but are known for their excellent, well-disciplined half-court defense. They are extremely well-coached and will grind a game down to a halt (350th in Adjusted Tempo), hence the low total in its first-round matchup.
NT is led by the senior inside-out duo of guard Javion Hamlet — who played 160-of-165 possible minutes last weekend during those four games in four days — and big man Zachary Simmons. They also have a number of capable shooters on the wings, including senior four man Thomas Bell, who can stretch opposing defenses by knocking down outside jumpers at an efficient clip.
This team is relentless on the defensive end and will be hard for any team to pull away from given their style. The Mean Green will fight, scratch and claw until the bitter end.
Matchup & Betting Analysis
Mike Randle: North Texas is a veteran team that controls pace. The slower the pace, the fewer possessions, the greater the chances of a first-round upset. I just don’t see that happening in this matchup.
Purdue brings interior size, outside shooting, strong defense, and a fantastic coach in Painter. The Boilermakers have made a deep run in the tournament recently, and are unlikely to overlook the Mean Green.
However, North Texas did a fine job on Charles Bassey of Western Kentucky and should at least slow down the strong interior duo of Williams and Edey. As long as the Purdue freshman guards, Ivey and Newman, remain under control with reasonable decision-making, the Boilermakers have enough to win this game, but will they cover?
The Mean Green played four challenging non-conference road games at Arkansas, Mississippi State, West Virginia, and Loyola Chicago. They only lost those true road games by an average of 10 points and two of those games by eight or fewer points.
I’m taking the 7.5 points with the Mean Green in a neutral-site battle with Purdue. North Texas only lost two C-USA road games by eight points and one point. In a low-possession game, I’ll back the underdog to keep it close.
Pick: North Texas +7.5