Minnesota vs. Rutgers Basketball Odds & Pick: Don’t Expect Many Points On Saturday
Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Marcus Carr of Minnesota.
- It's the Big Ten finale for a pair of sputtering teams that once looked like locks for the NCAA Tournament.
- Rutgers and Minnesota have hit offensive dryspells, rapidly falling down the conference standings.
- Shane McNichol doesn't expect things to heat up for either team in The Barn on Saturday.
Rutgers vs. Minnesota Odds
|Time | TV||Saturday, 12 p.m. ET | FOX|
|Odds as of Friday night and via BetMGM.|
As recently as mid-February, this meeting between Rutgers and Minnesota looked like a huge game in the Big Ten. The Scarlet Knights and Golden Gophers were jostling in the middle of the pack in the conference standings, with the NCAA Tournament in their future. Since then, trouble has come for both programs.
Rutgers has lost four of six, only winning home games against fading Indiana and a struggling Northwestern team. A blowout loss at Nebraska, the last-placed team in the conference, moved Rutgers from a certain NCAA Tournament team to a bubble dweller.
Minnesota has receded even further. In mid-January, the Gophers were 11-4 with wins over Iowa, Ohio State and Michigan. Minnesota has now lost nine of its last 11 games, including six in a row.
The Gophers' last three losses came at the hands of the only teams behind Minnesota in the Big Ten standings — Northwestern, Nebraska and Penn State. The word “freefall” fails to properly explain just how dismal things have gotten in Minneapolis.
Despite all of those issues, Minnesota hosts Rutgers in the Big Ten finale for both teams, and one of these two will have a chance to stop the bleeding.
Rutgers' Offensive Struggles
The Scarlet Knights are coming off a monumental egg-laying their last time out. On the road against Big Ten cellar-dweller Nebraska, Rutgers trailed by as many as 30 points and looked completely outclassed.
Rutgers scored just 0.76 points per possession in that game, with more than twice as many turnovers as assists. No Rutgers starter attempted a free throw, and the Knights shot 3-23 as a team from outside the 3-point line.
Rutgers and its fans can hope this performance was a fluke, with shooting regression in the future. Over the course of Rutgers' last nine games, the Scarlet Knights are shooting just 25.5 percent from outside the arc, on 21 attempts per game. That’s enough to hamper any offense, yet there’s not a ton of indication that Rutgers is due to snap out of the cold-shooting funk.
Rutgers has made just 31% of its outside shots this season, 11th best in the Big Ten. None of the five Rutgers players attempting more than two 3s per game is making better than 37% from long range.
Ron Harper Jr. has proven to be one of the nation’s streakiest shooters. During Rutgers' first 12 games, he made 42% from long distance. In his last 10 games, Harper has made just six of 43 shots from beyond the 3-point line, a dreadful 14%, while still trying more than four per game.
Not to be outdone, Harper’s teammate Geo Baker’s shooting has fluctuated from game to game. Ask an Indiana fan, and they’ll tell you Baker can’t miss from long range — he’s 10-of-20 in two games against the Hoosiers. An Ohio State fan would disagree — Baker is 2-of-11 against the Buckeyes this season.
When Harper and Baker are both on, Rutgers’ offense opens up and looks sharp. When both are off, Rutgers looks sluggish and broken.
Minnesota’s Offense is Even Worse
The Golden Gophers would kill for streaky shooting. Minnesota’s outside production has been nonexistent. No power conference team has made a lower percentage of its 3-point attempts, with Minnesota’s 28.8% ranking 335th in the nation.
During the Gophers' six-game skid, Minnesota has made 26.6% of its 3-point tries, with more than 23 attempts per game. With injuries throughout the roster, Minnesota’s offense is being entirely propped up by Marcus Carr.
The Pitt transfer outscored his teammates in the loss to Nebraska, 41-33, and is shooting from everywhere. In Minnesota’s last two games, Carr has played every minute of both games, taken 40 field goal attempts and went to the free-throw line 31 times. Forcing Carr into harmful shot selection without committing bail-out fouls, will be the top item on Rutgers’ game plan.
Betting Analysis & Pick
This is a scary game for bettors.
Neither of these teams is trending in a good direction, and neither has inspired much confidence. Early in Minnesota’s downturn, conventional wisdom suggested the Gophers were troublesome on the road but played much better at home at The Barn. That’s no longer the case after a 29-point pounding from Illinois and a loss to Northwestern at The Barn in Minnesota’s rearview mirror.
It’s impossible to advise betting on this Minnesota team given the way the Gophers are limping in to end the season. Conversely, Rutgers came out so flat in its last outing, the Scarlet Knights aren’t a sure thing to take care of business in this must-win match-up for their tournament hopes.
The safest bet here is to assume both teams continue to miss the mark offensively and stay short of a total number that Rutgers hasn’t cleared in any of its last five games.
Pick: Under 140 (down to 137.5).