NCAAB Odds, Picks for Michigan vs Rutgers
Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images. Pictured: Paul Mulcahy (Rutgers)
Michigan vs Rutgers Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Late into conference play, some matchups look like two heavyweights limping into the center of the ring to start the 12th round, and that's before the ball is even tipped.
Injuries, fatigue and a season full of both battle-testing wins and bruising losses take their toll on any college basketball team. The fight to stay on the right side of the NCAA tournament bubble — or find your way into the picture for an at-large bid — can be brutal.
In what promises to be a slugfest, only one of the two teams will escape Jersey Mike's Arena with the win.
The Wolverines' hopes of reaching the NCAA tournament this season have faded to a distant dream, as they're in need of some big wins down the stretch.
Luckily, the Big Ten schedule offers plenty of chances.
Michigan's last four games include three road trips to play top-30 competition and a home game against bubble-bound Wisconsin. Win those four and there's at least a pathway into the conversation.
After suffering from departures this past offseason, the Wolverines understood they needed an All-American season from Hunter Dickinson to reach the top quadrant of the Big Ten standings.
When the injury bug and streaky shooting affected the young players stepping up into new roles around him, Dickinson's job became even harder.
With less talent around him on the perimeter, Dickinson's production has dipped. He's shooting fewer field goals and making fewer shots at a (marginally) lower percentage. His assists are down from last year, with rebounds, blocks and steals all flat year-over-year.
If he wants to see a third Sweet 16 in his third year as a Wolverine, Dickinson needs to find another gear over the final weeks of the season.
He posted some superhero box scores last March. It's time we see Dickinson reach that level again.
After the Scarlet Knights spent the first half of this season proving themselves, climbing the rankings and earning hard-fought wins, Rutgers has hit a few speed bumps down the back stretch.
In a close win over Michigan State at Madison Square Garden, Mawot Mag suffered a season-ending injury.
Rutgers responded with losses in tough games at Indiana and Illinois, but followed with a disappointing defeat at home to Nebraska.
A one-point win at Wisconsin steadied the ship, yet made the injury report worse. Defensive stalwart Caleb McConnell missed that game due to back spasms and seems poised to miss Thursday's game, as well.
Now a Rutgers team that was not that deep originally will scramble to survive without two starters in the lineup.
This will be particularly difficult on the defensive end, where McConnell and Mag were major contributors to a top-five defense in the nation this season.
Early indications show an issue on the perimeter, where Rutgers has allowed each of its last two opponents to hit 12 3s.
That can happen against a hot shooting team, but Rutgers needs to respond by locking down the paint. The Scarlet Knights did so against Wisconsin, allowing the Badgers to shoot just 33% on 2-point attempts.
Perhaps that came from some lessons from the film after the bad loss to Nebraska, which scored 1.21 points per possession and made 20-of-27 field goals inside the arc.
If the Rutgers defense isn't up to snuff, the Scarlet Knights severely lack the offensive firepower to win games against top competition. Rutgers is 0-5 this season when allowing its opponent to score 70+ points and just 1-9 when the opponent reaches 65 points.
Michigan vs Rutgers Betting Pick
Those numbers detailing Rutgers' success when holding teams under certain thresholds speaks volumes about this game.
Down two starters and eager for a much-needed win, Steve Pikiell and his Rutgers team are looking to play this game as slow, ugly and physical as needed.
That's where the Scarlet Knights have been comfortable this season. In 19 games against power-conference teams, just six of those matchups hit 130 total points in regulation. Rutgers was 2-4 in those games.
Michigan may try to speed up the pace in this game, yet that effort can only go so far.
Rutgers should be able to control the tempo in its home arena, rendering this game into a glacial fistfight.
Regardless of who is able to survive and get the win, I like the under.
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