Iowa vs Rutgers Betting Odds
Fran McCaffery will take his fourth-highest scoring offense in the nation to New Jersey Wednesday night, as the Scarlet Knights host the Hawkeyes.
The development of Keegan Murray has significantly raised the Hawkeyes’ potential for this season – as well as the next few. Iowa is just 3-3 in conference play but is 13-4 overall and ranked inside the KenPom top-20.
It’s been an up-and-down season for Rutgers, who has lost three buy games while also beating Purdue and Michigan. At 4-2 in Big Ten play, the Scarlet Knights have a head start on the field but need to keep winning games it’s not supposed to.
Rutgers is catching nearly five points. But are the Scarlet Knights worth betting as a hungry home dog?
Iowa Hawkeyes Odds
Keegan Murray has been insane.
The sophomore is taking 32.7% of the team’s shots with a 67% true-shooting mark – both stats rank top-30 nationally. And given Iowa runs at such as fast pace, Murray leads the nation with 24 points per game.
He mostly dominates in transition (1.565 points per possession, 96th percentile) and post-up (1.444 points per possession, 99th percentile) situations, where he can leverage his versatility and finish at the rim. But he can roll in the pick-and-roll, shoot decent from 3, and is a monster on the offensive boards.
He’s basically replicating Luka Garza’s production.
Which, in turn, has allowed McCaffery to run his usual offense. Iowa works very fast while taking care of the ball and getting good interior looks.
The veteran backcourt tandem of Joe Toussaint and Jordan Bohannon deserve respect as well. Despite running the seventh-fastest working offense in college basketball, Iowa paces the nation in non-steal turnover rate and is top-80 in assist rate.
The defense is very lackadaisical. And given Iowa runs 6-foot-9 and 6-foot-8 at center, the Hawkeyes don’t rebound well, either.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights Odds
There’s a very clear formula to Rutgers’ winning: Defense and Ron Harper Jr.
In all four of Rutgers’ big wins this season, Harper was the KenPom MVP and the Scarlet Knights held their opponent under 1.00 tempo-free points per possession.
Rutgers should play how Wisconsin does, wherein the Badgers’ defense plays solid and Johnny Davis carries the offense. But the team often falls short of that goal.
Geo Baker is good but often inefficient and inconsistent. And there’s no other major bucket getter. So, when the Scarlet Knights get away from Harper, things go south. Remember, he has the highest ORtg of any player on the roster (114.2).
Meanwhile, the perimeter defense hasn’t been all that good. The Scarlet Knights are top-50 in 2-point defense but 312th in spot-up points per possession allowed. They’re also sub-200 in defensive turnover rate and sub-300 in non-steal turnover rate.
In fact, Harper is the best half-court defender by points per possession allowed (.636 points per possession allowed, 89th percentile).
I’d rather Harper was more involved on offense and less involved on defense. That way, Steve Pikiell and the Scarlet Knights can get back to their winning ways.
Iowa vs Rutgers Prediction and Pick
My Pick: Rutgers +3
Strange things happen at the RAC.
Given that Rutgers gets to play this game at home, I like the Scarlet Knights to dictate the pace in this one. Rutgers ranks 254th in tempo and 326th in average time of possession allowed.
The Scarlet Knights will also get to play their interior defense against an interior-minded offense. Advantage Rutgers.
Finally, if Harper can score at least 15 points, that adds up to a Rutgers win.
I love betting the Scarlet Knights as gross home dogs. I’ll bet Rutgers down to +2.5.