Purdue Boilermakers vs. Michigan St Spartans Pick & Prediction MARCH 15th 2024

No. 3 Purdue begins its pursuit of a second straight Big Ten tournament championship when it faces Michigan State in a quarterfinal matchup on Friday in Minneapolis.

The top-seeded Boilermakers (28-3) have posted five straight victories entering the tournament, and winning the title again surely would wrap up a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Of course, Purdue coach Matt Painter isn’t interested in looking past the matchup with the eighth-seeded Spartans (19-13), who defeated Minnesota 77-67 in a second-round contest on Thursday.

“Just worry about your next opponent,” Painter said. “It’s a tough deal. You’re going to face a quality team in every single game you play if you get past your first game.”

The feeling around the Boilermakers is that they are playing basketball at a higher level this March than they were a season ago.

Though Purdue performed well enough to win the Big Ten tournament crown last season, it followed up with one of the worst setbacks in NCAA Tournament history. The Boilermakers became just the second No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed when Fairleigh Dickinson notched a 63-58 upset.

Painter was asked to compare the current squad to the team that went 29-6 last season.

“Our shot-making ability is better,” Painter said. “People can’t scheme against us this year quite the way they could last year and just leave people open.

“Our skill level is better, our balance is better and guys are just more confident when they see the basketball going in.”

The Boilermakers are again led by center Zach Edey, who is the favorite to repeat as national player of the year.

Edey just became the first Purdue player and fourth overall to be named Big Ten Player of the Year in consecutive seasons. He led the Big Ten in scoring (24.2 points per game), rebounding (11.7) and field-goal percentage (61.9).

The 7-foot-4 Edey also swatted away 68 shots and hindered numerous others.

Spartans coach Tom Izzo wasn’t the happiest guy after the Thursday game when Edey’s name was brought up.

“He doesn’t even give me a chance to enjoy the press conference, and he’s asking me maybe about the greatest player maybe in basketball in the past two years,” Izzo said.

When the teams met on March 2, Edey had 32 points and 11 rebounds as host Purdue beat the Spartans 80-74.

“Zach Edey is a helluva player, man,” Izzo said. “Talk about a guy that deserves credit.

“The way they get him the ball in so many different ways. We thought we did a pretty good job the last game, and then the two guards went nuts. … So we’re going to have to pick our poison in what we’re going to do.”

Michigan State limped to the end of the regular season with four losses in five games.

However, the Spartans played much better on Thursday when they shot 55.6 percent from the field, including 62.1 percent in the second half, while dispatching the Golden Gophers.

Michigan State’s A.J. Hoggard scored 17 points on 6-of-6 shooting and Tyson Walker added 15 points.

Walker said there was plenty of valuable info to be found during the late-season slide.

“I think we learned the most lessons out of anybody, just the games we lost and how we lost them, so just trying to build on that,” Walker said. “We talked about it a lot, so just trying to build on that and make sure we don’t do it again.”

Purdue has won eight of its past nine meetings with Michigan State.

–Field Level Media

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