It’s all about improving your conference tournament seeding when it gets late into the season for most teams and this game serves as no different when Rutgers hosts the Michigan Wolverines. Both have seen their fair share of losses late into the season, now both coming off of a much-needed win. As for seeding, both are mixed in a five-way tie for fourth place, desperately trying to separate themselves as we near the end. Who will come out on top in this crucial Big Ten matchup?
Michigan Vs. Rutgers Prediction & Pick
The Pick: Wait on Rutgers spread
I initially leaned towards the under, but the issue with taking the total is that Michigan’s defense has been reeling and may give Rutgers an opportunity to find some scoring consistency. With that ruled out, I turn my attention towards the spread as the initial line movement has piqued my interests. While the number is aligned with projections for now, initial money has backed the Wolverines. Should the number get to as low as -4, I will put a small wager on the Scarlet Knights.
Recency bias may be playing a factor towards the Wolverines as they draw a bigger public crowd and are coming off an impressive win against the Spartans. This bodes well for our potential Rutgers ticket as we want to drive this as low as possible. With a low scoring game on deck, we need as many points as we can get for our own benefit. Especially since Rutgers offense is brutally stagnant.
Rutgers runs an old school approach, running at a snail’s pace while feeding the big man down low and letting plays develop in a halfcourt set. Big man Clifford Omoruyi plays a critical role in this matchup as his production on both ends of the court will be key for Rutgers success. He currently averages 13.4 points per game while also hauling in 9.8 rebounds. His ability to command defensive attention will open up gaps in Michigan’s defense, giving Rutgers much needed room to convert higher quality looks.
While on the defensive end, we are in for a classic battle of big bodies as shutting down Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson will be key to slowing down the Wolverines offense. Michigan struggled on offense early in the year, failing to field any consistent secondary scoring. Jett Howard and Kobe Bufkin have mightily stepped up in that area, now giving Michigan a versatile offense to work with.
Michigan Vs. Rutgers Odds
Oddsmakers lean towards Rutgers on their home court, opening them as a -6 favorite. Bettors believe this number was a tad too high, backing the Wolverines down to +5.5 in some shops. Various projections have this number around six, giving it zero value for now. It will be interesting to see if this number continues to go towards Michigan, giving value for Rutgers at one of the loudest arenas in basketball.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a moderate pace as oddsmakers opened the number at 133.5. Bettors hit the under right away, taking the total down to 132.5 in some shops as of writing. This comes as no surprise as Rutgers is one of the best defensive units in the nation and will have their home crowd rattling Michigan throughout the course of the game. It also helps that Rutgers is anemic as it gets on the offensive end, giving the opportunity of scoring lulls on both ends of the court throughout the game.
Michigan Vs. Rutgers Key Matchups
Can Rutgers continue to defend at a high rate against Michigan’s newfound perimeter success?
Rutgers perimeter defense vs Michigan three-point shooting
Injuries have played a factor in Rutgers recent struggles, but most noticeably affecting their perimeter defense. This may be an overreaction in comparison to their season long results, but Rutgers has recently given up threes at a high rate in their last three outings.
Michigan has been hit or miss from deep throughout the course of the season but have recently found some life from deep. This is a direct result of recently getting secondary scoring, opening up the court as defenders have to respect multiple areas of the court.
Rutgers excels in the halfcourt, getting the benefit of sitting back and switching off screens with multiple high level on ball defenders. A big reason why I lean towards Rutgers rounding back into form in defending the perimeter, especially since they are home in what will be a rambunctious environment.
Wait to see how low this spread can go with hopes of getting Rutgers at -4 or lower.