College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions for Rutgers vs. Purdue (Sunday, February 20)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Ron Harper.
Rutgers vs. Purdue Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Is any team in the Big Ten more hot in its last four games than the Scarlet Knights?
With Purdue having seemingly everyone in the Big Ten right behind it in the standings, this chalks up to be a sneaky important matchup for the Boilermakers.
I had this game circled since December 9 when Rutgers beat Purdue on a buzzer beater at the RAC a day after I wrote about Purdue winning the Big Ten. Little did I know two months later it would be this tight of a race come end of season.
Will Purdue get its revenge against a hobbled Rutgers squad? Or will Rutgers once again pull a bunny out of its hat and continue this magical run?
Let’s find out.
Rutgers has been on a magical four-game run, defeating some top-tier Big Ten competition. This includes wins against Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Illinois, all ranked opponents.
Are they for real? The jury is still out.
The defense have been one of the best in the nation, ranked 39th in AdjD per Kenpom in one of the most grueling conferences this season. They are one of the more havoc-minded teams on the court, slotted fifth in blocks and second in steals per game in the Big Ten.
Rutgers forces teams into bad shot selections and punishes sloppy offensive play with flying to the ball. While the defense has been legit, the offense has been the unit slacking for the Scarlet Knights.
The good news is that Rutgers has a clear-cut leader and offensive weapon in Ron Harper Jr. who averages 15.7 points and 6.2 rebounds on 41.1% from three and 42.5% from the field. He was the one who hit the buzzer beater on the Boilermakers last game out.
The bad news? He’s not certain to play this game while nursing an injury.
Without Harper Jr. the offense is going to be scrambling to replace his production as it lacks a variety of scoring. Geo Baker will need to take more of a command as the next in line to lead as he averages 12.2 points per game and is the dominant ball handler.
While Rutgers has been one of the hottest teams in the nation in its past couple of games, Purdue has been one of the biggest head scratchers.
The Boilermakers dominated Illinois who is the second-best team in the Big Ten, were destroyed by Michigan, who may be a bad matchup for the Boilermakers, beat Maryland on a last-second shot, and they capped it off with a small win against Northwestern.
It’s been incredibly frustrating for us future holders, as Purdue is still, in my opinion, one of the best teams in the nation when both sides are clicking. The offense has been one of the best nearly all season, but it is the defense that has been melting as of late.
Ranked 99th in AdjD, Purdue has serious issues with guarding the perimeter and allowing cuts to the lane. That’s a scary stat, as all it takes is one hot night from an underdog to bounce this team early come March if the defense takes another night off.
While the defense has been suspect, it’s the offense that has led this team to first place in the Big Ten.
With some of the most depth in basketball, Purdue has no shortage of shooters and damage dealers. It is led by one of the best players in basketball in guard Jaden Ivey who averages 17 points, five rebounds and 3.1 assists per game.
With Ivey dealing damage at guard, the real mismatch will come in the paint, especially if Ron Harper Jr. is not able to play. Purdue’s duo of Trevion Williams and Zach Edey will look to wreak havoc down low as two perennial scoring bigs.
Rutgers vs. Purdue Betting Pick
This will be a wait-and-see play, as it solely depends on Rutgers’ elite player Ron Harper Jr.’s injury status.
If Harper is good to go, I will look to take the over as Rutgers will continue to exploit Purdue’s defense, even when its offense isn’t the best itself. That’s how shaky Purdue’s defense has been.
Even with Rutgers’ elite defense, Purdue will handle its own with a variety of ways to attack Rutgers’ defense.
If Harper Jr. is unable to play, I will take Purdue in a revenge rout, as I believe Rutgers will just have too much to overcome on offense with Purdue being able to put all its focus on Geo Baker and Clifford Omoruyi in a revenge spot.
Sometimes the best bet is to wait and see. Follow me on the app at kmalstrom for any potential late play as I await for an injury update on Harper Jr.
Pick: Wait for Ron Harper Jr. Injury News
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