Rutgers vs. Ohio State College Basketball Odds & Picks: Bank on Buckeyes’ Offense At Home
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured: EJ Liddell.
- A top-25 Big Ten matchup on Wednesday night? Yes, please.
- The No. 23 Ohio State Buckeyes will host the No. 11 Rutgers Scarlet Knights for some afternoon action on the hardwood.
- BJ Cunningham sees value on the Buckeyes in this matchup and explains why below.
Rutgers vs. Ohio State Odds
A top-25 showdown in the Big Ten takes place in Columbus on Wednesday as the 11th-ranked Rutgers Scarlet Knights take on the 23rd-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.
Rutgers is fresh off a huge home win over a loaded Illinois squad but will have to put that behind it to avoid getting knocked off by the Buckeyes.
Steve Pikiell has done a tremendous job turning the Rutgers program into a legit NCAA Tournament team. Now, he has a squad that can compete for a Big Ten title, with all of his main contributors returning from last year’s team that finished No. 28 in the KenPom rankings.
Ohio State got back on track this weekend after losing its Big Ten opener to Purdue by beating UCLA in the CBS Sports Classic.
Losing talented players like Kaleb Wesson and Luther Muhammad was always going to be difficult to overcome. However, Chris Holtmann added depth via the transfer portal, and Ohio State is set to be a top-25 team again this season.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
The Scarlet Knights now have something that they’ve never had before: expectations. They bring back almost everyone for a team that would have been an at-large team for the NCAA Tournament had it not been canceled last season.
The reason Rutgers was so good is that it was one of the best defensive teams in the country, ranking sixth in defensive efficiency, per KenPom. So far this season, the Knights have continued to be stout defensively, allowing an effective field goal percentage of only 45.7%. However, the biggest improvements for this Rutgers squad have come on the offensive end of the floor.
Last season, Rutgers desperately struggled from beyond the arc and from the free-throw line, ranking in the bottom 100 of college basketball in both. It’s still struggling from the charity strike but has improved almost 6% from 3 and shoots 36.5% this year. The Scarlet Knights will need to continue that hot shooting against a fantastic defense like Ohio State.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Last season, the Buckeyes’ bread and butter was their defense. Holtmann deploys a pack-line style defense — similar to Virginia — and it has done wonders. Like the Cavaliers, Ohio State plays at a snail’s pace, ranking 318th in tempo and forcing its opponent to make every possession count.
Ohio State has finished inside the top 25 in KenPom’s defensive efficiency every year since Holtmann’s arrival. However, this season has been a bit of a change, as the Buckeye’s are relying on their offense rather than their defense.
Offensively, Holtmann’s squad has been one of the most efficient offenses in the Big Ten, ranking eighth nationally in offensive efficiency. For Ohio State, it’s the fundamentals that make it one of the elite offenses in the country.
Its effective field goal percentage is right around the NCAA average, but it sits in the top 40 in turnover percentage, offensive rebound percentage, and free-throw percentage.
Ohio State went through some injury issues before the UCLA game, as leading scorer and rebounder EJ Liddell missed the Purdue game. However, he returned for the game against UCLA and logged 19 minutes. He should be a huge difference-maker for Ohio State if he can play 30+ minutes on Wednesday.
Betting Analysis & Pick
For Rutgers to remain undefeated, it’s going to have to slow down Ohio State on the offensive end of the floor. But the Knights don’t have the defense and frontcourt to do so.
If Ohio State can control the tempo in this game, it should have no problem dominating Rutgers at both ends of the floor.
Rutgers has a few rotation players injured who are game-time decisions tomorrow, so the Scarlet Knights could be a little thin depth-wise.
I have Ohio State projected as a -3.67 favorite factoring in Rutgers injuries, so I think there’s value on the Buckeyes at -2. However, I wouldn’t play it any higher than that.
Pick: Ohio State -2.