Odds & Pick for Minnesota vs. Rutgers College Basketball: Do Golden Gophers Stand a Chance in the Garden State?
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images. Pictured: Ron Harper Jr.
- Rutgers hosts Minnesota for a Big Ten battle on Thursday night.
- Now that Ron Harper Jr. is healthy and leading Rutgers at the RAC, do the Golden Gophers (0-5 ATS on the road) stand a chance in the Garden State?
- Mike Calabrese breaks down this matchup and shares his betting pick below.
Minnesota vs. Rutgers Odds
|Time | TV||Thursday, 9 p.m. ET | FS1|
|Odds as of Wednesday night and via PointsBet.|
This is the kind of game that really tests your mettle as a sports gambler. Both the Golden Gophers and Scarlet Knights have given fans glimpses of greatness along with a fair share of head-scratching performances.
Rutgers opened the season with six straight wins, including a three-point victory over Illinois. At that point in the season, Rutgers was headed for the top 10 and had covered in four straight games.
Minnesota has four top-25 wins on their resume, including a serious thrashing of previously unbeaten Michigan at The Barn. But just like Rutgers, Minnesota has also experienced offensive lulls this season and fallen apart completely against inferior opponents.
So what are we to make of Rutgers sudden resurgence (three in a row SU/ATS) and Minnesota’s swoon? To find answers, let’s start in the backcourt.
Marcus Carr vs. Ron Harper Jr.
Neither Rutgers nor Minnesota could be aptly described as one-man shows, but when their leading scorers falter, that’s usually enough to derail their hopes.
Marcus Carr (20 PPG) and Ron Harper Jr. (17.3 PPG) lead their respective teams in scoring and have been their team’s downfall when they play poorly. In Minnesota’s six losses this season, Carr’s average has slipped by six points per game down to 14. When the junior combo guard is off, things come off the rails for Richard Pitino’s bunch.
It’s even more evident that Rutgers can’t win when their top-scorer is struggling. During RU’s six-game slide, Harper averaged 13 points per game on 36% shooting from the field and 29% from long range. During that run, Rutgers points per game average plummeted by 10 points.
Knowing that these two players are crucial to their team’s success, who should we back in this one? Well, Carr is still in the midst of a shooting slump that dates back to late December. He’s shooting just 30% from the floor since Dec. 31st and is coming off of a six-point outing at Purdue.
Harper Jr., on the other hand, appears to finally be fully recovered from his ankle injury. Being back at 100% has helped him chip in on the glass, and attack the rim more than he had been when the ankle was still bothering him. With Harper driving and cutting to the basket more often, I think he’s a safer bet to hit his season averages than Carr, who is very 3-point dependent and still in a shooting slump.
It’s not hard to spot Minnesota’s secret weapon this season. The Barn has hosted all four of their top 25 wins and helped them rack up an 8-4 ATS mark on their home floor. When the Golden Gophers hit the road, things get ugly in a hurry. Minnesota is 0-5 ATS on the road this season and they’ve dropped those games against the closing number by an average of 12.2 points.
Rutgers just smashed Michigan State at home by 30 and have covered four of their last five as a home favorite. Given the current trends, I had this game slotted as Rutgers-6.5, so the opening number of 4.5 caught my attention.
Betting Analysis & Pick
I’m certainly not writing off Minnesota for the remainder of the season, but barring a few strong performances in a row, I can only advocate taking the Golden Gophers on their home floor.
Rutgers, on the other hand, seems to be responding to adversity well and has their leading scorer involved in every facet of the game once again. I’ll ride the hot hand and fade the weary road team in this one.
Pick: Rutgers -4.5 | Play up to Rutgers -5.5