Michigan vs. Rutgers College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions: Look Toward the Total (Tuesday, Jan. 4)
Photo by Rick Osentoski/Getty Images. Pictured: Juwan Howard (Michigan)
- Michigan travels to the RAC to take on Rutgers.
- The Wolverines are coming off of a road loss to UCF and have five defeats on the season.
- D.J. James explains why value lies in the total.
Michigan vs. Rutgers Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights host the Michigan Wolverines in a Big Ten battle.
Michigan is coming off of a shocking loss to UCF, while Rutgers beat both Central Connecticut State and Maine in its last two outings. Having Geo Baker back definitely helps for the Scarlet Knights.
Michigan has one top-100 NET victory on the season. Rutgers is 8-4 ATS, with wins over Clemson and Purdue at home.
That said, both of these teams are amongst the slowest in the Big Ten in terms of pace of play. Look to the total, as it seems to be a bit inflated for two struggling offenses.
Michigan has not played up to expectations this season yet.
Hunter Dickinson and Eli Brooks lead the way in the scoring department, but those two are the only Wolverines averaging at least 10 points per game.
In its five losses, Michigan has logged 65, 62, 51, 65 and 71 points. The Wolverines may not lose this game — as they are favored by four points to open — but Rutgers’ strong suit is defense.
The Scarlet Knights play up to their crowd in Piscataway, New Jersey, which could cause offensive issues for the Wolverines.
In addition, Michigan also struggles from downtown and inside the arc. The team only makes 30.6% of its 3s and 47.3% of its 2-pointers. This contributes to the Wolverines’ abysmal Effective Field Goal Percentage (KenPom) at 46.9%, which ranks 270th.
Not only that, but the Wolverines also play at the 274th-ranked tempo in the NCAA. They average 17.6 seconds per possession on offense and 17.3 seconds per possession on defense, so they take their time.
They may not necessarily turn opponents over at an alarming rate, but they prevent 3s (only 27.5% on defense). They also do not foul often, as they rank 29th in free throw attempts per field goals.
All of these variables point sharply to a maximum of maybe 65 points for the Michigan offense.
Rutgers has not looked too sharp this season, aside from a couple of games at home.
Baker definitely bolsters the Scarlet Knights’ ailing offense, but this should not matter a considerable amount.
They still rank 275th from 3 (30.6%) and 249th from 2 (47.3%). They also do not hit free throws (67.1%). They do not get to the line too often, but this will factor into a total when taking an under. All of these point to their 145th-ranked offense, per KenPom.
On the other side of the coin, the Scarlet Knights are a good defensive team, particularly at home. They held a torrid Purdue offense to 68 points. Look for more of the same against Michigan.
Where the Wolverines have strengths in Brooks, Dickinson and Caleb Houstan, the Knights can attack from multiple angles. They have very even matchups in Baker, Ron Harper, Jr. and Clifford Omoruyi.
Caleb McConnell, Harper, Jr. and Paul Mulcahy average a combined 5.3 steals per game. Even if Michigan does not turn over the ball often, these players will throw a wrench in the Wolverines’ offensive plans.
Finally, Rutgers occupies 17.5 seconds per possession on offense and 18.2 seconds per possession on D. The Knights will play at a similar pace to the Wolverines.
Michigan vs. Rutgers Betting Pick
These two teams will not hit many outside shots. Michigan’s offense is lagging behind expectations at the moment and Rutgers has not been very strong, even at home.
The Wolverines will take yet another game to find themselves.
Lastly, both teams have their offensive strengths in the same three positions, so the defenses should reign supreme.
It is hard to see Michigan shift into another gear on the road in its third Big Ten game.
Take the under in this one at 136 and play it to 133 (-110).
Pick: Under 136 (Play to 133)
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