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Purdue vs. Gonzaga Pick
When you look at the Purdue Boilermakers, it’s clear where it all starts. The big man Zach Edey is the reigning National Player of the Year and opened this season as the favorite to take home the award for a second consecutive season.
Edey is the most imposing force in the nation, standing at 7-foot-4. The senior has only added to his game each year.
However, what makes this Purdue team special is not Edey but the guys who help run the offense around him.
Sophomore point guard Braden Smith has been the facilitator in a Boilermaker offense that ranks fourth in assist-to-field goal ratio and No. 1 in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency thus far.
Purdue has exhibited excellent ball movement thus far. Edey gets plenty of touches in the post, but the backcourt has executed from the extra attention he needs on the low block. In turn, the Boilermakers are fifth in 3-point percentage and 11th in effective field goal percentage.
They should continue their offensive success in this matchup, as Gonzaga lacks the size to contend with Edey and it’s also shown it’s susceptible from beyond the arc.
While I gushed over the Boilermakers’ big man, Gonzaga continues to be a big man factory. Out is Drew Timme, and in steps freshman Braden Huff.
Huff has stepped into the dominant center role at Gonzaga, as he’s averaging 21 points per game on 75% shooting through his first two career games. Now, it goes without being said, but facing off against Edey is a massive step up in competition, and it’s likely that Huff may be contained in this matchup.
If that’s the case, I talked about the experience that’s come to the Zags, and we may see the likes of Graham Ike and Ryan Nembhard get leaned on here.
The Zags haven’t exactly been tested through their first games of the season, so we’ll learn a lot about them in this matchup. However, we’ll likely come out of this matchup thinking far less of Gonzaga.
The Boilermakers have the size to shut down the paint and have shown to be excellent at contesting shots from the perimeter.
Pick: Purdue -4.5
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