NCAA Tournament First Four Odds & Picks for Notre Dame vs. Rutgers: Value Lies on Total
Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Ron Harper Jr. (Rutgers)
- Notre Dame and Rutgers square off in Dayton as part of the NCAA Tournament's First Four.
- The Scarlet Knights have been a giant slayer this year, but most of that success has come at home.
- Jim Root of Three Man Weave breaks down the matchup and offers up his best bets.
Notre Dame vs. Rutgers Odds
|Notre Dame Odds|
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Two of the most surprising at-large bid recipients for the NCAA Tournament meet in Dayton for the privilege of facing Alabama Friday night.
Rutgers had the big wins to get in, finishing with five Q1A wins. However, the Scarlet Knights took several bad losses in league play, and their metrics lagged well behind the typical benchmarks for selection. Still, they have showed significant upside throughout the year.
Notre Dame, meanwhile, had only four combined wins in the top two quadrants (compared to nine losses). The Irish’s case is a tough one to make, but that doesn’t matter now — to Dayton they go!
The Fighting Irish use a strict seven-man rotation, almost never dipping further into the bench. Unsurprisingly, they play slowly, minimizing possessions to keep key players fresh.
Another result of that depth: Notre Dame plays a decent amount of zone. That helps with both fatigue and preventing foul trouble. A lack of size contributes as well: the rotation has only two true forwards (center Paul Atkinson Jr. and stretch big Nate Laszewski).
The Irish rebound well out of that zone, which is a rarity for most teams. They make foes beat them over the top with shooting,
Make no mistake about it, though: Notre Dame goes as its offense does. Six of the seven rotation players can knock down jump shots, with Laszewski, Dane Goodwin and Cormac Ryan all especially deadly. That opens up space for pick-and-rolls, an area where Blake Wesley has thrived.
The freshman has been a surprise this year, emerging as the team’s best facilitator and an NBA prospect. He and Prentiss Hubb share ball-handling duties, but the offense is at its best when Wesley is getting into gaps, drawing help and setting up shooters.
The Scarlet Knights are a difficult team to figure out. Per Haslametrics.com, they rank 352nd nationally in consistency. That explains how their tournament profile can include such monumental wins and confounding losses.
At their best, playing against the Scarlet Knights is a total pain. The roster is loaded with impressive physical specimens, and they are hyper-physical for all 40 minutes. Their defense can really wear teams down, forcing them into tired jump shots late in the shot clock.
Unfortunately, the offense can also struggle to score at times. It should come as no surprise that Rutgers ranks 107th in adjusted offensive efficiency, per KenPom. Meanwhile, the stout defense ranks 43rd.
When the offense does click, it’s usually because Ron Harper Jr.’s jumper is falling. He can be a streaky shooter, but he found the touch in Big Ten play, knocking down 42.2% of his triples (eighth in the league).
Paul Mulcahy and Geo Baker are capable table-setters, and Cliff Omoruyi is a powerful finisher, but this is Harper’s show.
Notre Dame vs. Rutgers Betting Pick
Rutgers opened as a -1 favorite at most shops, but that was quickly bet down to a pick’em. The total is hovering around 132, give or take the hook on either side.
Harper Jr. is going to be a matchup nightmare in this one. Notre Dame has no one quick or strong enough to check him. That means foul trouble, zone or double-teams. The zone could work, but Rutgers has time to prepare for it, and Mulcahy can be a perfect high-post trigger-man against such looks.
Rutgers’ defense does force opponents take jumpers, and Notre Dame is plenty capable of hitting them. But that’s easier said then done against the nation’s seventh-tallest team on average, per KenPom.
I am torn on the side here, but I do think the tempo will be slow enough to deliver an under. Rutgers’ size plus Notre Dame’s compact defense and defensive rebounding will make it tough on both squads to get easy buckets.
Provided the jump shooters are not scorching, the efficiency should not burn us.
Pick: Under 132 (Play down to 130)
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