Ohio State vs. Rutgers Odds, Expert Picks | College Basketball Betting Guide (Sunday, Jan. 15)

Ohio State vs. Rutgers Odds, Expert Picks | College Basketball Betting Guide (Sunday, Jan. 15) article feature image

Pictured: Clifford Omoruyi #11 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

  • Ohio State takes on Rutgers in a Sunday Big Ten tilt.
  • The Buckeyes have lost three straight games and now must travel to New Jersey to face the Scarlet Knights on the road.
  • How should you bet this matchup? Jim Root breaks it down.

Ohio State vs. Rutgers Odds

Sunday, Jan. 15
2:15 p.m. ET
Big Ten Network
Ohio State Odds
-114o / -106u
Rutgers Odds
-114o / -106u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

It’s still early in conference play, but rematch season has arrived. Ohio State and Rutgers first met in Columbus back on Dec. 8 and the Buckeyes squeaked out a 67-66 buzzer-beating win.

That game has unquestionably been lurking in Rutgers’ mind.

The game-winning buzzer-beater should never have happened as Tanner Holden came back from being out of bounds before burying the shot. The league office admitted the officiating gaffe, meaning Rutgers has every right to feel slighted. With a chance to exact revenge at home, expect a dialed-in Scarlet Knights squad.

Ohio State will not be rolling over, though. The Buckeyes have lost three consecutive games, including a stunning loss to Minnesota as 14.5-point favorites on Thursday. The Buckeyes need to get out of this rut, especially since five of their next seven games are on the road.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Chris Holtmann’s team hasn't played poorly in this losing streak. Instead, the Buckeyes have come up short in close games. They led at Purdue with two minutes left, and were only down 71-68 with 2:30 left at Maryland. A controversial (read: horrible) foul call against Minnesota cost Ohio State a chance to win in overtime.

Also encouraging: Zed Key returned from injury and played 30 minutes off the bench against Minnesota. He had missed the two prior losses, and he’s a massively important piece as the Buckeyes’ lone proficient interior scorer.

Adding back another veteran presence is vital given this team’s makeup. The Buckeyes rely heavily on two freshmen — Bruce Thornton and Brice Sensabaugh — for offensive production. That can be dicey on the road, where Ohio State is just 1-2 against the spread so far.

Ohio State’s biggest issue has been a horribly leaky defense. Holtmann had top-25 defenses (per KenPom’s Adjusted Defensive Efficiency) in his first three seasons at Ohio State, but the Buckeyes have since been outside the top 80 for three straight years. They do not force any turnovers, and they’ve struggled to secure defensive rebounds.

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Rutgers Scarlet Knights

After losing program pillars Geo Baker and Ron Harper Jr., Rutgers has shocking emerged as a legitimate Big Ten title contender. The Scarlet Knights trail Purdue by one game and already won in West Lafayette. Rutgers has also risen to second in KenPom’s Big Ten rankings — it’s not just smoke and mirrors.

The defense is in the highest stratosphere in the sport. The Scarlet Knights are huge in both height (17th nationally in average height) and in physique. Rutgers passes the “get off the bus” test with flying colors and is a physically intimidating bunch. The Scarlet Knights use that length well, harassing on the perimeter and funneling foes into the waiting arms of the gargantuan Cliff Omoruyi.

The Scarlet Knights are disruptive in every way. They rank top 10 nationally in both forced turnover rate and effective field goal percentage. Tennessee and Houston are the only other teams to rank in the top 20 for both.

In the past, the offense has been Rutgers’ fatal flaw. While that issue is nowhere near resolved, the Knights have at least found a late-game killer. Cam Spencer, a transfer from Loyola Maryland, has hit game-winning threes at both Purdue and Northwestern. His shot-making has given Rutgers a crucial boost. Plus, the Scarlet Knights have continued to dominate the offensive glass, a staple during Steve Pikiell’s tenure.

Incredibly, Rutgers might still be somewhat undervalued. Paul Mulcahy and Caleb McConnell — the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year — each missed games early in the year. With them both healthy, Rutgers is a scary squad.

Ohio State vs. Rutgers Betting Pick

Had Ohio State not entered this game on a three-game losing streak, this would be a home run spot for Rutgers. The revenge angle from a stolen first meeting should play up well, especially back in New Jersey.

As it stands, Ohio State is much closer to the “buy low” than the “sell high” for which I was angling. Plus, Rutgers has not been invincible at home, having already lost two games in its own building.

Key’s return and Ohio State’s losing streak are enough to dampen my bet size, but I still must back Rutgers here. The Scarlet Knights rangy defense and fantastic home environment will challenge the Buckeyes’ freshmen.

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