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Purdue, the newly minted third-ranked team in the country, is poised to add a HUGE victory under their belt when Kofi Cockburn and the heavyweight Illini come into Mackey Arena. The Boilermakers are currently a 5.5-point favorite over at FanDuel.
Speaking of Cockburn, my man is currently +400 to win the Wooden Award as the nation’s top player and that makes him the favorite. He’s been phenomenal. He’s averaged 25.3 points per game in his last three games and 9.3 rebounds, all wins and two on the road. The other, a home game with Wisconsin, he crushed the Badgers. He was 16-19 for 37 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
#13 Illinois is 10-1 in Big Ten play when Kofi plays. The loss… you know me too well, it was to Purdue. That game went to double-overtime and Kofi fouled out in the first overtime, early and actually only played 22 minutes in that game because of foul trouble. A lot of that was because Zach Edey was wonderful in that game. Edey is 7’4″ and you can probably guess that an athletic big like that could cause some issues for someone like Kofi. Size vs. Size is a fun matchup to watch and these two are going to be a spectacular watch again. Edey, by the way, went for 20 and 8 in their meeting on January 17.
Purdue is on a five-game heater and if you’ve been reading my stuff on this here site, you know I love this team. I have them in my Final Four preseason predictions because along with Edey, Jaden Ivey is a really high-level point guard that’s leading the team in scoring (17.3). They’ve got two other starters averaging double-digits scoring (Trevion Williams, Sasha Stefanovic) and it was Stefanovic that was the hero in the previous meeting in Champaign.
Purdue actually dropped an 11-point lead at the half to allow the last game to go to overtime. Purdue is as explosive an offense you’ll find in the country and now that they are back home, they look to soar. They are fourth in the country in points per game AND points per game at home. Their singular home loss was to Wisconsin, a game in which the Boilermakers turned the ball over five more times than the Badgers and Purdue missed nine free-throws in what ended up being a five-point loss. I think Purdue grabs the sweep tonight and I’ll take the home favorite -5.5 and I’ll take the over 146.