Odds & Pick for Rutgers vs. Michigan State College Basketball: Scarlet Knights Poised To Cover Against Sparty

Odds & Pick for Rutgers vs. Michigan State College Basketball: Scarlet Knights Poised To Cover Against Sparty article feature image
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Jamie Sabau/Getty Images. Pictured: Ron Harper Jr.

  • There are solid matchups in the Big Ten every night, and Tuesday is no exception.
  • Rutgers will face Michigan State on Tuesday in an effort to pick up its first win over the Spartans during Steve Pikiell's tenure with the Scarlet Knights.
  • Mike Randle breaks down the Big Ten battle below and shared a betting pick based on his analysis.

Rutgers vs. Michigan State Odds

Rutgers Odds +1.5 [BET NOW]
Michigan State Odds -1.5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -105 / -115 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 151.5 [BET NOW]
Time Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET
TV ESPN2
Odds as of Monday evening and via BetMGM. Get an INSTANT $500 deposit match at BetMGM today.

Michigan State is just 1-3 in Big Ten play after earning its first conference win at Nebraska. On Tuesday, the Spartans host the most talented Rutgers team of the past 30 years, ranked No. 14 in the country. 

Can Tom Izzo’s Spartans build momentum off their first Big Ten win, or will the Scarlet Knights solidify their place as one of the conference’s elite teams?

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Breakdown

Rutgers has been one of the best stories of college basketball this season. Starting in 2006-07, the Scarlet Knights produced 13 consecutive losing seasons, before a fantastic 20-11 campaign last year. Their first March Madness appearance since 1991 was subsequently put on hold by COVID-19. 

This year, Rutgers is 7-2 despite dealing with several key injuries. Senior guard Geo Baker (10.2 points per game) suffered a high ankle sprain in their opening win over Sacred Heart and missed the next three contests. He has finally returned to full health, totaling 32 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals over the past two games.

Leading scorer Ron Harper Jr. (22.1 points) missed their 81-76 win over Purdue with an ankle sprain, and 6-foot-11 freshman Cliff Omoruyi has been out with a knee injury since Dec. 20.  However, the Scarlet Knights should be close to full strength against Michigan State. 

Harper returned against Iowa, scoring a season-low 13 points despite playing 33 minutes. It was still an encouraging sign since he did not practice in the buildup to the game.

Rutgers’ depth also received a huge boost with the return of junior guard Caleb McDonnell, who is dealing with a back injury. He averaged 6.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 21 minutes per game last season. His return is vital to a team that was only going seven players deep over the past two weeks. 

While Omoruyi is likely to remain sidelined, the interior presence has been solidified by 6-foot-11 junior Myles Johnson (8.1 points, 8.7 rebounds). Johnson is very active on the defensive end with 2.1 blocks and 1.1 steals per game, and he is coming off a superb 13-point, 10-rebound performance against Iowa All-American Luka Garza. 

Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Myles Johnson (top) and Luka Garza.

Rutgers has been more efficient than Michigan State on both ends of the floor. It ranks 17th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 28th in defense, per KenPom.

The Scarlet Knights have needed to avoid foul trouble, with only 24% of their minutes coming from bench players. Rutgers has maintained high efficiency despite their personnel injuries.

Michigan State has a balanced scoring attack with five players averaging anywhere from 8-13 points.

Junior forward Aaron Henry scored a career-high 27 points against Nebraska, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range. However, that was a rare performance from a player who entered the game shooting just 16% (4-of-25). 

The Spartans need more production from junior Joey Hauser (12.3 points), who has six or fewer points in three of the past four games. Sophomore guard Rocket Watts (9.8 points) has taken the second-most shots on the team but is only shooting 35.6% from the field and 27.5% from beyond the arc. 

Michigan State’s normal defensive efficiency has disappeared lately, allowing 77 points or more in each of the past five games, including an eye-opening 91 points at home to Oakland.

This season, Michigan State has been one of the worst teams in college basketball against the spread (2-8). At home, the Spartans are even worse with just one cover in six attempts.  

The Spartans’ shell-style defense is based on proper positioning and not gambling for turnovers. They rank 303rd in defensive turnover percentage and consequently have allowed opponents to shoot a robust 35.6% from beyond the arc. In their home games against Wisconsin, they have allowed a combined 46.9% (31-of-66) from 3-point range.

That is problematic against a Rutgers team that’s shooting 39.3% from deep (22nd-best). 


 

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Betting Analysis & Pick

Rutgers has never beaten Michigan State in the Steve Pikiell era, going 0-6 since he took over.

However, this is the first time the Scarlet Knights enter the matchup as the more talented team.  Michigan State’s current defense is playing below its usual standards, and the Spartans are simply not explosive on offense.

The most reliable unit in this game is the Rutgers defense, which suffocated Ohio State at home until Johnson fouled out and Jacob Young left due to injury. 

I’m taking Rutgers as a pick to earn its first win over Michigan State under Pikiell. The Scarlet Knights have battled through injuries and are ready to earn this crucial Big Ten road win.

Pick: Rutgers + 1 (down to pick’em).

[Bet Rutgers now at BetMGM and get an INSTANT $500 deposit match.]

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