Arguably the marquee game of Thursday night in college basketball features No. 1 Purdue, which just returned to the top of the Associated Press Top 25 on Monday, visiting unranked Michigan. The Wolverines are capable of beating anyone, especially at home, but could be without their second-best player in swingman Jett Howard, son of head coach Juwan Howard. Thus, Michigan is +5 at Caesars Sportsbook. Click here for model picks.
Howard, a 6-foot-8 freshman, injured his left ankle late in the first half of Sunday's win over Minnesota and didn't return. X-rays were negative so it won't be a long-term absence, but Howard reportedly hasn't practiced this week. He has said he plans on playing but his father clearly will have the final say there. Howard has started all 19 games and is averaging 30.7 minutes, 14.6 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. He's one of the team's better 3-point shooters at 38.2%.
The swingman ranks second in the Big Ten in 3-point attempts, makes and field-goal percentage and is a likely future first-round NBA Draft pick. With Howard out against Minnesota, Duke transfer Joey Baker started the second half. He's a good perimeter shooter but doesn't offer much else.
Michigan looks to end a 12-game losing streak against No. 1-ranked teams dating to 1997. The last of those defeats was a 58-43 loss at Louisville in the 2019 Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Overall, Michigan is 2-25 vs. No. 1 teams. The two wins came against Wichita State (87-85 on Dec. 14, 1964) and Duke (81-73 on Dec. 13, 1997).
The only defeat this season for Purdue was a single-point loss at home to Rutgers on Jan. 2. Center Zach Edey is having a monster season, averaging 21.5 points on 61.4% shooting and 13.2 rebounds.
The Toronto native is the -380 favorite to become the second player in school history (Glenn Robinson) to win the Wooden Award. Remarkably, Edey has more blocked shots (43) than personal fouls (29). It should be a great individual matchup between him and Wolverines star center Hunter Dickinson (18.1 points per game, 8.9 rebounds per game) on tap.
This is the only scheduled meeting between the schools and Purdue is 1-7 in its past eight at Michigan, with that victory coming by a point in 2018. A win tonight would give Purdue victories at Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State for the first time since the 1997-98 season.
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