Sunday College Basketball Odds, Picks for Rutgers vs. Seton Hall: Expect Defensive Battle in Clash
Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Bryce Aiken.
- Rutgers makes the short trip to Seton Hall on Sunday for an intra-state rivalry.
- Both the Pirates and Scarlet Knights are coming off to huge wins over ranked opponents last week.
- Anthony Dabbundo breaks down the game below and gives his top selection.
Rutgers vs. Seton Hall Odds
-110o / -110u
|Seton Hall Odds|
-110o / -110u
Both Rutgers and Seton Hall grabbed ranked home wins on Thursday night heading into their in-state rivalry matchup on Sunday at Seton Hall. The Pirates were small favorites to win their home game against Texas and managed to outlast the Longhorns with superior execution in the half court in the game’s final minutes. Seton Hall won it 64-60 and grabbed a second quadrant I victory for its resumé.
Over in Piscataway, N.J., Rutgers pulled off one of the most stunning upsets in school history when Ron Harper Jr.’s near half-court shot at the buzzer went in and the Scarlet Knights upset No. 1 Purdue, 70-68.
Rutgers had never beaten a No. 1 ranked team in school history prior to Tuesday, and a full-court storm ensued following Harper’s buzzer-beater. There’s a natural letdown spot off that historic win, but it seems unlikely to be as significant of a letdown when it comes along with a short road trip against an in-state rival on Sunday.
The Garden State Hardwood Classic is much more highly anticipated after Thursday’s results, but here’s what to expect when these two defense-first teams meet on Sunday:
The Rutgers offense has been up and down all season, but it played one of its better games without starting guard Geo Baker on Thursday night. Baker hasn’t played any of the last four games and the Scarlet Knights have had very mixed results in those games. A road loss at UMass and a blowout defeat to Illinois were ugly, but RU now has wins against Purdue and Clemson on its resumé, without Baker.
One major problem for the offense is that it’s very focused around Harper, and when he’s not going, the offense grinds to a halt. Paul Mulcahy hasn’t been able to make much from beyond the arc, and that will improve as time goes on given his good shooting history, but the Scarlet Knights have very little else to space the floor with.
None of the regular rotation players besides Harper and Mulcahy have made more than 35% from deep in a prior season. The Rutgers offense has one of the lowest rim-and-3 rates in the country, per ShotQuality. The Scarlet Knights rely on mid-range and low-quality shots to sustain their offense, and given how slow they play, there’s a danger of having serious issues getting points against an elite Seton Hall defense that has a ton of length.
Rutgers’ defense hasn’t been quite as good as years past to this point in the season, but there’s reason to expect that to improve. The Scarlet Knights have allowed opponents to shoot 33.8% from deep, which is well below the national average of 3-point defense. Steve Pikiell’s teams have generally been good at getting out on shooters, and given the quality of shots allowed, you’d expect teams to have shot worse than they have on the Scarlet Knights.
Seton Hall plays at a much faster pace than Rutgers does on offense, but the Pirates defense has excelled at forcing opponents to play in the half court and making them take long possessions to get good looks and try to score.
The Pirates are 286th in average defensive possession length, and given the depth, experience and length on this Seton Hall team, they have a ton of positional versatility and different looks that they can throw at Rutgers on offense. They frequently go nine deep, and seven of those nine stand at 6-foot-6 or taller.
Seton Hall has been a bit lucky defensively and guarding the 3-point line, where opponents have only made 25% of 3s against them. Regression will come for them defensively there at some point, but Rutgers has very little shooting and isn’t the team to exploit them.
The Pirates have been unlucky with free throws made against them based on the KenPom metrics, and Rutgers brings a very below-average free throw shooting team with them to Newark on Sunday.
Because the Scarlet Knights don’t shoot effectively from the field, they tend to rely on second-chance looks to generate points, but the Hall ranks 16th in defensive rebounding.
Rutgers vs. Seton Hall Betting Pick
Given the rivalry and the letdown spot for each program off significant ranked wins just three days ago, this game should get off to a slow start. Seton Hall will make Rutgers play slow in the half court, will deny second-chance looks to the Scarlet Knights offense, and this is a game where Rutgers will likely miss Baker’s presence.
Rutgers doesn’t have the shooting to shoot over the length of the Hall defense, and the Pirates length should heavily contest midrange looks and interior looks to make it difficult for Rutgers to score.
And while this defense doesn’t look as good as Scarlet Knights’ defenses of recent years past, they have some 3-point defense regression coming.
This game should play slower than the market is projecting and Seton Hall’s defense is the elite unit here that should control the matchup.