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Michigan State vs. Rutgers Betting Odds & Picks: Back Scarlet Knights in Big Ten Battle

Michigan State vs. Rutgers Betting Odds & Picks: Back Scarlet Knights in Big Ten Battle article feature image
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Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Rutgers standout Caleb McConnell.

  • Michigan State and Rutgers go to battle in Saturday Big Ten basketball action.
  • The RAC — or Jersey Mike's Arena, as some call it — is still a dangerous place to play, even for a Tom Izzo-coached team.
  • Read on for Anthony Dabbundo's full breakdown and top betting pick.

Michigan State vs. Rutgers Odds

Saturday, Feb. 5
4 p.m. ET
FS1
Michigan State Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-1.5
-110
133.5
-110o / -110u
-125
Rutgers Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+1.5
-110
133.5
-110o / -110u
+105
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Michigan State squeaked out a road win in College Park on Tuesday after a last-second basket propelled the Spartans past Maryland. Now, Sparty will play a second consecutive road game in another difficult environment as Michigan State plays at Rutgers in Saturday’s Big Ten action.

Rutgers has largely been a miss away from the Rutgers Athletic Center, but in that building, it’s been a different team. Home wins against Michigan, Purdue, Clemson and Iowa set them up to pull off yet another home win.

Given some of the glaring regression indicators for this Michigan State team and Rutgers ability to defend the interior and grind a game to a halt, the Spartans could struggle. They might even get caught looking ahead to a huge ranked game at home against Wisconsin that’s up next on Tuesday.

Even though the Scarlet Knights have dropped three of four games, they have some matchups they can exploit and at least neutralize some MSU strengths as a short home underdog.


Michigan State Spartans

Michigan State has been one of the more fortunate teams in the entire country, based on their underlying metrics. Let’s start with ShotQuality, which projects the Spartans expected record based on quality of shots at just 12-9. That’s considerably worse than their current record of 17-4 and they’ve won games because of unsustainable splits both at the free throw line and beyond the arc.

The Spartans rank second in the Big 10 in 3-point shooting, first in 3-point defense, first in free-throw shooting and second in free-throw defense. All of the regression indicators are pointing in the wrong direction for Michigan State there. Add in the team’s inability to execute in the half-court consistently and you’ve got some issues.

Michigan State is bottom 10 in off the dribble 3-point Shot Quality and just 151st in catch and shoot looks. The shooting regression is coming for the Spartans in a big way and on the road at Rutgers might just be the spot.

The Spartans are heavily reliant on getting out in transition to be successful. They rank top 50 in shortest possession length on offense and the halfcourt SQ numbers are poor compared to the frequency they like to get out and run.

Facing Rutgers, who loves to slow teams down and make them grind in the halfcourt, it won’t be easy for MSU to score at all in transition.

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Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Rutgers is above average at defending ball screens, elite at guarding the midrange and has solid rim protection to prevent Michigan State from getting easy looks. It’s going to require the Spartans to shoot well from beyond the arc to win this game and we’ve already discussed why Michigan State’s perimeter shooting is quite overrated.

The strength of the Michigan State defense is actually guarding the perimeter, but they don’t get much benefit to that in this matchup anyway given Rutgers shooting woes. The Scarlet Knights like to go inside to the post and utilize the mid-range, two areas where the Spartans are just average defensively based on quality of shots allowed.

Rutgers should be able to go after Marcus Bingham on the inside and look to get him in early foul trouble and then try to exploit the Spartans on the inside from there. The Scarlet Knights offense has really struggled, but the home/away splits are considerable and they’ve shot the ball considerably better from all places on the court at the RAC.


Michigan State vs. Rutgers Betting Pick

Rutgers has shown all year that it can get up for these big upset home spots, and this is another situation. Michigan, Iowa and Purdue lost at the RAC and were defeated in different game styles, which is important when facing a versatile Michigan State team.

The biggest key — besides the RAC’s excellent home court and raucous crowd — is the Scarlet Knights ability to slow this game to a crawl and keep MSU out of transition. Michigan State’s halfcourt offense hasn’t been particularly good and with the perimeter shooting regression coming, Rutgers is ripe for an upset at home.

The market isn’t showing a ton of respect for the visitors with them opening as two-point road favorites, but I like the Scarlet Knights at any underdog price when you consider the advantages and Rutgers’ ability to dictate the pace.

Pick: Rutgers +1 or better

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