Purdue Hosts Illinois Looking For Share Of Big Ten Lead

Third-ranked Purdue looks to gain a share of the Big Ten lead and complete its first season sweep of No. 13 Illinois in a decade as the teams square off Tuesday night at Mackey Arena.

The Boilermakers (20-3, 9-3 Big Ten) posted a 96-88 double overtime win in Champaign on Jan. 17, handing the Illini (17-5, 10-2) their only home defeat in league play thus far. Sasha Stefanovic, Zach Edey, and Jaden Ivey combined for 61 points in that game, while Trevion Williams added 14 points, seven rebounds, and five assists off the bench.

Matt Painter’s team is 4-1 against ranked opponents, with its 74-69 loss to then-No. 23 Wisconsin on Jan. 3 its lone blemish in 13 games at home. Purdue is seeking a sixth straight win overall, coming off an 82-76 win over Michigan Saturday in which Ivey totaled 23 points, seven assists, and six boards. Williams had 19 points and Edey 13 as the Boilermakers amassed a 44-26 edge in points in the paint.

Those paint points will come tougher versus an Illini squad anchored by Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Kofi Cockburn. The 7-footer was plagued by foul trouble in last month’s loss to the Boilers, finishing with season lows of 10 points and five rebounds in just 22 minutes, but he has bounced back to average 25.3 points and 9.7 rebounds while shooting 65.3% in his last three games — all Illini victories.

Cockburn had 17 and eight in his team’s 74-57 win at Indiana Saturday and again will try for his 41st double-double, which would tie him with Skip Thoren for the most in school history. Trent Frazier scored 14 of his 23 points in the second half for the Illini, who seized control with a 16-3 run midway through the final 20 minutes.

Frazier had 16 points in last month’s loss to Purdue, while Alfonso Plummer paced Illinois with 24 and Andre Curbelo added 20 off the bench. Curbelo, who missed nearly two months due to post-concussion symptoms, has scored just 14 points on 5-of-17 shooting in the three games he has played since the loss to the Boilermakers.

Purdue has not swept the season series since 2011-12, and last month’s win snapped a three-game losing streak in the series. The Illini have not won back-to-back games at Mackey Arena since 2004-05 and are 0-4 versus AP Top 5 Boilermaker teams over the last 35 seasons.

Control the paint, control the game?

In the current era of the guard’s game in college basketball, it is a throwback of sorts to have the most pivotal matchup in the paint, where Cockburn will square off with the 7-4 Edey and 6-10, 280-pound Williams. While Illinois was able to overcome an 11-point halftime deficit in the first game to force overtime, it did most of the heavy lifting without Cockburn, who went to the bench for nearly 10 minutes after picking up his fourth foul with 17:23 to play in regulation.

Cockburn’s game came to a relatively quick end in the overtime, as he picked up his fifth foul 41 seconds into the first extra period. Purdue hit three key baskets in the paint in the second overtime en route to finishing with a 42-26 edge in points made there, in addition to outscoring Illinois 26-12 at the foul line.

Purdue has been excellent offensively during its winning streak, averaging 82.8 points on 53.5% shooting. That includes a 45% mark from 3-point range despite going 5 of 18 from beyond the arc against Michigan. The Boilermakers are third in the nation with a 59.1 effective field goal percentage and third in 3-point shooting at 41.1%.

Illinois has been solid on the defensive end, ranking second in the Big Ten in field goal percentage (39.6) and third in points per game allowed (65.5). Both teams are also in the top seven nationally for rebound margin per game, with the Boilermakers first at plus-11.7 and the Illini seventh at plus-8.4.

Sportsbooks see Boilermakers as solid favorites

It is not surprising Purdue is a favorite for this game, with most sportsbooks in Indiana installing the Boilermakers as 6-point favorites in Tuesday morning action. BetMGM is the only one straying from that number, offering Purdue -5.5 at -115. On the 6-point number, Betway and DraftKings (-105) lead the way, closely followed by FanDuel (-106), and BetRivers (-107), and everyone else trailing at -110.

FanDuel has the best moneyline offering at -235, with BetRivers, DraftKings, and BetMGM all listing -250. Caesars, PointsBet, WynnBet, and theScore Bet all check in at -260 for Purdue to hold homecourt.

There are currently three total options available ranging from 146 to 147 points. PointsBet, Caesars, and WynnBET have taken the low end, all offering -110 in both directions, while FanDuel and DraftKings have staked out the high ground in similar fashion. The Kambi platform powering BetRivers, Unibet, and TwinSpires has a -107/-113 split at 146.5 points, while BetMGM, Betway, and theScore have the standard -110 play.

Those interested in team totals also have three options. BetRivers has a -122/-104 split at 75.5 points, while 76 is the most common play with WynnBet (-110) and both PointsBet and theScore (-115). Caesars (-105/-115), Betway (-105/-125), and FanDuel (-110/-114) are all offering 76.5 points.

Photo: Ron Johnson/USA TODAY