College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions: Rutgers vs. Penn State (Tuesday, Jan. 11)
Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images. Pictured: Geo Baker
- Steve Pikiell and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights go to battle against Micah Shrewsberry and the Penn State Nittany Lions on Tuesday.
- Both teams have been in the middle of the pack in conference play, but the Nittany Lions kept it close against third-ranked Purdue last time out.
- Read on for Keg's full betting preview and top pick for the game below.
Rutgers vs. Penn State Odds
-110o / -110u
|Penn State Odds|
-110o / -110u
Before the season, Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell said this Scarlet Knights team was his best team yet. After an embarrassing 5-5 start to the season and a two-week COVID pause, the Knights seem to finally be making good on Pikiell’s words.
Rutgers is currently on a four-game win streak, with two wins in a row over Big Ten opponents. It has also been the 16th-most efficient team in the country since Dec. 30th. But there’s one major factor to take into account before you go taking a Big Ten future out on the Knights.
The Scarlet Knights’ four wins in a row have all come at home, and even more significantly, the Scarlet Knights haven’t won a game on the road all season — currently 0-4.
But this issue is much more than just this year.
Rutgers has not finished a regular season with a winning record away from home since it went 7-4 in the 1990-91 season. Before last year that was also the last time the Scarlet Knights made it to the NCAA Tournament. Since Pikiell arrived six years ago, Rutgers is just 10-43 in regular season away games.
And when you look into the numbers it’s even worse than just wins and losses. This year, the Scarlet Knights are scoring 4.9 points fewer per game when they are away from home, while also allowing 20.8 more points per game on the road.
The Nittany Lions may be just 1-2 at home this season against conference opponents, but those two losses came against top-25 teams in Purdue and Ohio State. If Rutgers wants to make the tournament for a second year in a row, it’s going to need big road wins to do it.
Will the Scarlet Knights be able to get their first of the season against Penn State?
Rutgers is 9-5 on the season but has had some issues on offense. The Scarlet Knights are ranked 232nd in the country in 2-point shooting, hitting at just 48.3%. They have also had issues as a unit from the charity stripe, making just 68% of their opportunities.
But the Knights have been impressive from 3-point range on the season, hitting at 33.9%. They have been even better as of late, however. Through four conference games, Rutgers leads the league in 3-point shooting at 48.6%.
Defensively, this team isn’t as good as some of the teams Pikiell has had in the past, but by no means it is bad. The Scarlet Knights have limited opponents to just 41.1% shooting overall.
A big reason why they’ve been winning games has been their defense. When Rutgers limits teams to fewer than 70 points, it is 4-0.
Another big factor for Rutgers in this successful stretch has been its ability around the basket. The Scarlet Knights are 61st in the country, averaging 37.8 points per game. In their last two wins, they dominated the boards, out-rebounding Michigan by five and Nebraska by 16.
The Nittany Lions had an impressive showing last week, knocking off Indiana and Northwestern back to back. But unfortunately they couldn’t pull off the upset of Purdue at home.
However, the Lions did give Purdue all it could handle in a 74-67 loss.
The Nittany Lions are one of the most experienced teams in college basketball, and it shows at both ends of the court. Penn State ranks inside the top 100 in both offensive and defensive adjusted efficiency.
And while they score just 67.3 points per game, they are limiting opponents to only 66.2.
That said, the Nittany Lions’ defense is allowing opponents to hit 3-point shots at a concerning rate, currently 34.4% this season. And against a Rutgers team that is the best in the Big Ten currently from outside the arc, they will absolutely have to step up.
Rutgers vs. Penn State Betting Pick
Just about every Big Ten coach you talk to will tell you there are no easy road wins in this conference. And no one has had more trouble on the road than Rutgers.
I think that continues on Tuesday night. Yes, the Scarlet Knights have been an amazing 3-point shooting team, and Penn State has struggled to defend that shot, but regression will come at some point for the Scarlet Knights.
I think that will be sooner rather than later. I have Penn State at -3.5 and would feel comfortable taking them as high as -4.5.