Featured Video from Scott Reichel
Big Ten basketball here as the Rutgers Scarlet Knights hosts the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Both teams have been having reasonably successful seasons, as Minnesota enters at 10-7 while Rutgers sits at 3-4. Oddsmakers have Rutgers as a modest favorite for this one, which will be televised by the Big Ten Network.
Minnesota Holding SteadyMinnesota is coming off a pretty successful season overall. People were starting to speculate that Richard Pitino's job would be in danger, but then he made it to the NCAA tournament and won a game in the first round over Louisville. This year things have been a bit of a mixed bag, although they are still considered a pretty good team overall. They got off to a shaky start, but have been better since Big Time play started. They enter this one at 10-7, and some of their losses have been highly questionable. They've already lost to a mediocre Utah team, and two of their other losses were by at least 15 points. Minnesota's offense has been pretty good, but they still have some question marks there as well.
They've been able to score a lot of points around the rim, but they don't have too many shooters. In fact, nobody in their rotation is shooting better than 36.7 percent from downtown. Daniel Oturu is one of the best players in the conference, but I think they rely on him to do a little bit too much. They've been only mediocre on defense, and they rank 72nd in overall defensive efficiency according to advanced analytics site kenpom.com. Playing on the road in a raucous environment, those defensive issues could get even worse. They've put up some good efforts at home recently, but they are 0-5 on the road this year. In their most recent road game, they lost by 16 points to Michigan State.
Rutgers Finally Making Some NoiseIs this finally the year for Rutgers basketball? They have been in the basement of the Big Ten since first joining the conference, although they appeared to finally get things trending in the right direction last year. They were very competitive for most of the Big Ten slate, leading to some optimism heading into Steve Pikiell's fourth year as head coach. So far everything has gone smoothly, and the enter this one at 13-4. Even more impressive, they are 4-2 in Big Ten play. They've won seven of their past eight games, and they have some really impressive wins in that span.
They have one of the best home court advantages in all of college basketball, and they are still undefeated at home this year. They draw a surprisingly energetic crowd, and they are 7-0-1 against the spread in their last eight home games. They just beat Indiana by nine points in their most recent game, and in their home game before that, they beat a ranked Penn State squad by 11. Making things even better, star guard Geo Baker just returned from his thumb injury in their most recent game. Their offense still leaves a lot to be desired, but they have been playing lights out defensively. They rank eighth overall in defensive efficiency and are great at forcing turnovers. They spread the ball around well on offense, and have five different guys averaging at least 8.8 points per game.
Trends, courtesy of Covers.com: Scarlet Knights:
- 7-0-1 ATS in their last 8 home games
- 20-8-2 ATS in their last 30 games overall
- 5-1 ATS in their last 6 Sunday games
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I love Rutgers in this spot. They've been one of the best home teams in all of college basketball this year, while Minnesota still hasn't won a game on the road. The Golden Gophers are overrated, and their lack of shooting is really going to hurt them here. This isn't the same old Rutgers team, but oddsmakers haven't caught up yet. Minnesota has been mediocre at best on defense, while Rutgers is one of the best defensive teams in the country. I don't think this one will be particularly close.
Full-Game Total Pick
The under also makes a lot of sense here. Rutgers is a defensive team first and foremost, and at home their style of play is going to win out. Neither team shoots the ball particularly well from downtown, so we don't have to worry about things getting out of hand in a hurry. Rutgers tends to lockdown defensively in front of their home crowd, and the under is 4-0 in their last four home games. Conversely Minnesota's offense gets a lot worse on the road, and the under is 19-6-1 in their last 26 games away from home.