In March, the game slows down, the teams play tighter, and things get more chippy. Good defense goes a long way to bolster those trends in the Madness. A good portion of the top teams left in the Round of 32 have some of the best defenses in the nation, and Texas is no exception. An elite offense can go cold at any point within a game, and a stout defense will capitalize on that opportunity. I expect this exact scenario to occur in the matchup between No. 6 Texas Longhorns and No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers.
The Longhorn defense is rugged. They own the sixth-best scoring defense in the nation and limit opponents to 60 points per game this season. When looking at KenPom efficiency numbers, Texas comes in with the 32nd ranked offense, and the 13th ranked defense. On the other hand, Purdue has an elite offense (3rd overall), yet has a defense that can be exposed (100th ranked efficiency). The more balanced team tends to do better in The Big Dance, and we are backing this trend with the Longhorns here.
Three key factors that can sway the game in favor of Texas are their ability to limit Purdue's offensive rebounding, prevent the Boilermakers from getting to the charity stripe, and cause them to turn the ball over. Two glaring weaknesses on the Longhorns' defense are their inability to secure defensive rebounds (they rank 254th in the nation whereas Purdue ranks 15th in offensive rebounding) and their tendency to send opponents to the free-throw line. Texas ranks 316th in the country's defensive free throw rate, whereas Purdue has the 40th best offensive rate at getting to the line.
This Boilermakers offense is lethal. However, if the Longhorns can capitalize on Purdue's poor defensive efficiency and do just enough to shut down their top-three ranked offense, Texas can spoil the dreams of Purdue once again.
Trust the defense of the Longhorns and take Texas +3.5 (-110) on FanDuel Sportsbook.