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Northwestern vs. Purdue Prediction: Boilers Seek Revenge at Mackey

Written by: Andrew Norton
Published January 31, 2024
10 min read

The Purdue Boilermakers (19-2) host the Northwestern Wildcats (15-5) in a Big Ten showdown at Mackey Arena. Earlier this season, Northwestern upset the Boilers on its home floor, winning the bout 92-88 behind a 31-point outburst from Wildcats legend Boo Buie.

Can Buie and company pull off another shocking upset, this time on the road? Or will reigning Wooden Award winner, Zach Edey, help the Boilermakers get one step closer to catching Wisconsin for first place in the Big Ten?

Below, we cover the Northwestern Wildcats vs. No. 2 Purdue Boilermakers odds and lines, as well as our betting picks for this enthralling conference battle!

Northwestern vs Purdue Prediction

Northwestern Wildcats vs. Purdue Boilermakers Betting Odds for Wednesday, Jan. 31

The Boilermakers are humongous 12.5-point favorites on their home floor against Northwestern on Wednesday night. The point total rests around 142.5 points for this matchup, with the Over and Under holding -110 odds. At the time of writing, the Moneyline odds were not out on BetMGM Sportsbook but check back in throughout the day, as they will drop soon.

Teams Spread Moneyline Total
Northwestern Wildcats +12.5 (-105) N/A Over 142.5 (-110)
Purdue Boilermakers -12.5 (-115) N/A Under 142.5 (-110)

Odds from BetMGM Sportsbook. Use our BetMGM promo code WSNMGM - bet $5, get $158 in bonus bets.

Any concerns about the Purdue Boilermakers after their horrible Round of 64 exit as a No. 1 seed last season have been dispelled: this team is the real deal. Purdue returned reigning Wooden Award winner Zach Edey, a 7-foot-4 Herculean center, with the perfect combination of elite footwork, strength, and touch around the rim.

Edey appears to be a shoo-in for his second straight Wooden Award, as he is averaging roughly 23 points and 12 rebounds per game on an uber-efficient 63% from the field. What has been most impressive about Edey’s evolution as a player from last year to this one has been his lateral quickness and overall conditioning.

Edey is capable of playing 30-35 minutes and not wearing down, which is quite amazing considering his size. His improvement in lateral quickness has also given Purdue the latitude of playing him in slightly less of a “deep drop” defensively. 

Still, Edey was not the only player who came back from last season’s elite team; they returned Braden Smith, Fletcher Loyer, Mason Gillis, Trey Kaufman-Renn, Caleb Furst, and Ethan Morton, while also bringing in Lance Jones, a senior transfer who has posted 12 points per game for the Boilers!

Last season’s biggest weakness for Purdue was three-point shooting. That is nowhere near the case this year, as the Boilermakers rank sixth in the nation in 3P%, complementing Edey’s interior presence perfectly with shooters on the perimeter. It has really been the evolution of Loyer and Smith that has taken this team from great to “all-time,” though.

Purdue is 12-2 in Quads 1 and 2, with two Big Ten road losses to Northwestern and Nebraska. The rest of those wins have been extraordinarily impressive, to say the least. 

Expectations for this Northwestern team were not high in the preseason, as the media poll projected it to finish in eighth place in the Big Ten. Instead, the Wildcats have a 6-3 record in Big Ten play and sits in solo fourth place behind Wisconsin, Purdue, and Illinois, three teams that are currently ranked in the top 10 in the A.P. Poll. This team is the real deal once again.

Northwestern primarily utilizes a four-guard lineup, with 7-foot center Matthew Nicholson patrolling the paint. Brooks Barnhizer, Boo Buie, Ty Berry, and Ryan Langborg might not have the size that a lot of Big Ten teams have, but they often make up for it in explosive offensive output.

This season, the Wildcats rank 36th in adjusted offensive efficiency (KenPom) and 24th in 3P%; however, they don’t take that many three-pointers (216th in 3PAs), which is surprising given how many capable shooters they have rostered.

The biggest issue for this Wildcats, and something that reared its ugly head in their narrow home win against this Purdue squad, nearly causing them to lose, is rebounding. Northwestern has Nicholson at center, who is a formidable interior player and utilizes his physicality well against other big men, but it lacks size outside of him.

The Wildcats are one of the worst rebounding teams in the Big Ten, which could spell trouble against such a physically imposing Purdue frontcourt. Find out below if Northwestern can keep this game close or if the Boilermakers' combination of size, strength, and shooting will be too much to overcome.

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Northwestern Wildcats vs. Purdue Boilermakers Prediction and Betting Pick

Purdue gets a slight lean from us in this spot because it has been dominant at home (10-0) and has revenge on its mind from earlier this season when the Northwestern Wildcats staged a huge upset.

Zach Edey has such a size (7-foot-4) and strength advantage on this Wildcats frontcourt, which let him go for 35 points and 14 rebounds in their earlier matchup. This time, Edey is at home, and he has been playing exceptional basketball recently.

As a matter of fact, Edey has been averaging roughly 27 points and 15 rebounds in his past five games despite being the obvious focal point of Purdue’s offense. 

Additionally, the Boilermakers shoot the sixth-highest 3P% and that number only increases on their home floor (43.7%.) On the other hand, Northwestern has one of the worst three-point defenses in the Big Ten, ranking 298th (out of 362 teams) in the country in opponent 3P%. Of course, those numbers are unadjusted, meaning they’d be more justifiable if the Wildcats had played a brutally tough schedule, but they haven’t. 

Northwestern’s rebounding is another major concern in this spot. The Boilers rank third in the nation in total rebounding rate behind only Arizona and St. Mary’s; they also pull down nearly 37% of their misses. However, the Wildcats sit in 292nd in the nation in total rebounding rate. Yikes.

Lastly, Northwestern’s offense has been impressive in moments this season behind Boo Buie, Ty Berry, Brooks Barnhizer, and Ryan Langborg, but Purdue is an elite defensive team on its home floor. If the offensive and rebounding advantages weren’t enough, the Boilermakers’ 11th-ranked defense (KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric) drastically improves at home.

Purdue ranks 19th in unadjusted opponent eFG% at Mackey Arena, which is outstanding considering its overall strength of schedule (first in strength of schedule rating per KenPom.) It will take an iconic Boo Buie game for the Wildcats to even stay within relative striking distance. Back the Boilers in this spot.

How to Watch Northwestern Wildcats vs. Purdue Boilermakers

  • When: Wednesday, Jan. 31 @ 3:30/6:30 p.m. PT/ET

  • Where: Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, IN 

  • TV: Big Ten Network

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AUTHOR

Andrew Norton

117 Articles

Andrew has always been an avid sports fan and followed his hoop dreams all the way to college. He’s well-versed in everything betting with multiple years of experience and is qualitatively and quantitatively knowledgeable in sports statistics and analytics.

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