What a strange year for college hoops in Indiana.
The Hoosier State is synonymous with basketball, so much so that its governor brags about making a basket in each of Indiana’s 92 counties as much as any policy achievement.
Some of the nation’s most recognizable programs reside here: IU, Notre Dame, Butler, and Larry Bird’s Indiana State. Overall, Indiana boasts 10 Division-1 basketball teams.
Yet, just one Indiana school finds itself welcomed to the Big Dance.
In a year where a global pandemic has opened the door to Indiana hosting the entirety of March Madness, only Purdue University will actually compete.
Not that fans in West Lafayette, also one of the tournament’s first-round sites, are complaining.
The South Region’s No. 4 seed, Purdue brings a talented, battle-hardened squad to its first-round matchup against North Texas. It also brings the hopes of fans and bettors for a classic March Boilermaker run.
Purdue heavy favorites to avoid first-round upset
The Boilermakers will play the South Region’s 13-seeded North Texas at 7:25 p.m. Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium (televised on TNT).
That’s because Matt Painter’s team enters March Madness playing well.
Purdue walked into last week’s Big Ten tournament on a five-game winning streak before losing a heartbreaker in overtime against Ohio State. The Buckeyes followed that up by nearly taking out eventual Midwest Region No. 1 seed Illinois in the conference’s title game.
If nothing else, this year’s brutal Big Ten schedule has forced Purdue into a level of late-season consistency, something the Boilermakers will need Friday against the Conference USA champions.
Purdue will face the winner of No. 5 Villanova-No. 12 Winthrop if it can avoid an upset against senior-heavy North Texas.
Fortunately for Purdue, the Mean Green lost by double digits to each tournament team it played this year, including Loyola Chicago, West Virginia, and Arkansas.
Value on Purdue in tournament futures
Are you confident in Purdue to make a run this year?
If so, there is money to be made on the Boilermakers’ futures odds.
The team sports both size and the ability to rain threes, veteran leadership through players like guard Sasha Stefanovic, and one of the nation’s most proven head coaches.
That said, here is Purdue’s tournament futures breakdown on DraftKings:
- To make Sweet 16: Yes: +105; No: -130
- To make Elite 8: Yes: +550; No: -910
- To win championship: Yes: +6500
The South Region, meanwhile, is a prime example for how betting odds can differ from tournament seeds.
Despite being the region’s No. 4 seed, the Boilermakers have the eighth-longest odds to represent the South in the Final Four:
- No. 1 Baylor: -134
- No. 2 Ohio State: +400
- No. 6 Texas Tech: +600
- No. 3 Arkansas: +800
- No. 9 Wisconsin: +1000
- No. 8 North Carolina and 5-seed Villanova: +1250
- No. 4 Purdue: +1400
Defensive battle expected by sportsbooks
As of Monday night, the Purdue-North Texas over/under was the second-lowest of the entire first round.
At 126.5, the total is matched with the Rutgers-Clemson game and just above the 126 of Georgia Tech and Loyola Chicago, the nation’s top-ranked scoring defense.
That total is nothing new for Big Ten fans.
The conference is known for hard-nosed defense and possession-by-possession games played on snow-capped Midwestern campuses – even if that reputation is beginning to dissipate with the recent influx of top-level play.
Just as tough as Purdue defenders could be on North Texas, the Mean Green bring to Indianapolis one of the nation’s best defenses.
North Texas is ranked 10th nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 61.2 points-per-game. They are ranked 48th in opponent field-goal percentage, at 40.9 percent.
Purdue, meanwhile, ranks 60th and 67th, respectively, at 66.2 ppg and 41.1 percent.
And with each team sporting slow-paced offenses (Purdue ranks 181 in scoring offense; North Texas: 209) the total has become one of the biggest betting storylines of this first-round matchup.