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Free Basketball Pick: Texas Tech, Boilermakers Clash in Sweet 16

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Oskeim Sports provides analysis on the Sweet 16 Round game between Texas Tech and Purdue.  Oskeim also gives a free basketball pick in this game, recommending investing on the Red Raiders plus the points.

Visit Oskeim’s Blog on a regular basis for another free basketball pick.

Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard has led the Red Raiders to the Sweet 16 Round of the NCAA Tournament behind one of the nation’s best defenses.

Indeed, Texas Tech is allowing 64.6 points per game on 40.3% shooting from the field to teams that would combine to average 76.1 points per game to a mediocre defense.

The Red Raiders own the nation’s 15th ranked scoring defense and the 12th ranked field goal percentage.  Texas Tech is ranked 8th in opponent’s assists per game (10.0), 2nd in opponent’s assist-to-turnover rate (0.671) and 16th in opponent’s average scoring margin (-10.3).

Texas Tech is averaging 7.3 steals per game (46th) and owns a 9.3 percent steals per game rate (34th).  In its two wins in Dallas, Texas Tech limited Stephen F. Austin and Florida to 0.93 points per possession on 43 percent from inside the arc.

Not surprisingly, the Red Raiders finished with the 2017-18 campaign with the best defense in the Big 12 Conference.  The one concern with Texas Tech’s defense is its propensity to allow its opponents to get off a lot of shots, especially from beyond the arc.

The Red Raiders’ subpar three-point defense would ordinarily be an issue against a Purdue squad making 42.1 percent of its three-pointers.  However, many of Purdue’s open looks from beyond the arc this season came by working the ball inside-out through big man Isaac Haas (fractured elbow; 14.7 points, 5.7 rebounds per game).

With Haas unlikely to play on Friday, Texas Tech will be able to focus more attention on Purdue’s perimeter shooters.  Texas Tech owns one of the best man-to-man defenses in Division I by putting pressure on the ball and denying passing lanes.

The results have been indisputable: Tech is tied for third in the country in defensive efficiency and force more than 22 turnovers per 100 possessions.

Meanwhile, the Red Raiders’ offense has been extremely efficient in postseason play, shooting 46.5 percent from the field and 41.3 percent from three-point territory.

Purdue has been a poor rebounding team throughout the season, ranking 202nd and 137th on the offensive and defensive glass, respectively.

Those numbers will only get worse with the absence of Haas.  The Boilermakers have also been horrible in protecting the rim, allowing opponents to shoot 62.5 percent at the rim (263rd nationally).  The Red Raiders’ attack is led by Keenan Evans, who averaged 17.4 points and 3.3 assists per game during the regular season.

Evans established career-highs in every conceivable offensive category this season and finally looked healthy in Tech’ regular-season finale against TCU.  Prior to that game, the star senior had been wearing different-sized shoes to compensate for his injured toe.

The other encouraging sign for the Red Raiders has been the development of guard Zhaire Smith, who looked like an entirely different player in the final six weeks of the regular season.

With Smith contributing alongside Evans and Jarrett Culver, the Red Raiders’ possess an underrated offense that can make some noise in the NCAA Tournament.

From a technical standpoint, Texas Tech is 7-3 ATS in its last ten non-conference affairs and 7-2-1 ATS in its last ten meetings with Big Ten Conference opposition.

In contrast, the Boilermakers are a woeful 3-12-1 ATS in their last sixteen games overall, 1-8-1 ATS in its last ten games versus .501 or greater opposition and 1-10 ATS in their last eleven contests following a win.

Finally, Purdue head coach Matt Painter is a money-burning 37-92-3 ATS when his team gives up 70 or more points, including 14-43-3 ATS when laying points.

With coach Beard standing at 15-7 SU and 14-8 ATS versus .800 or greater opposition, grab the available points with the Red Raiders as Oskeim Sports’ Free Basketball Pick for Friday, March 23.

Oskeim’s Free Basketball Pick for Friday, March 23:

  • Texas Tech (+2) (-110) over Purdue