Thursday Big Ten Tournament Odds & Picks: Michigan-Rutgers, Iowa-Minnesota, Purdue-Ohio State
Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images. Pictured: Luka Garza #55 of the Iowa Hawkeyes
We have officially hit uncharted and uncertain territory in the Big Ten conference tournament.
The conference announced that the rest of the tournament would be played without fans due to coronavirus concerns. Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg was hospitalized with the flu, but as of Thursday morning, the second round of the Big Ten tournament is set to go on as scheduled.
Here’s how I’m betting three of the four games.
No. 9 Michigan v. No. 8 Rutgers
- Spread: Michigan -2.5
- Over/Under: 135
- Time: 12 p.m. ET
- TV: BTN
- Location: Indianapolis, Ind.
Michigan and Rutgers will meet for a third time this season, with the Wolverines winning by an average of seven points. Interestingly enough, this game will the second time these teams are meeting on a neutral floor, with the Wolverines besting the Scarlet Knights on Feb. 1 at Madison Square Garden, 69-63.
The great equalizer here is the sheer awkwardness of this game. This is the first major basketball game, college or professional, being played in front of no fans this season. This will be a weird, uncomfortable environment for both teams.
Other teams that play later games can get a sense of what it will feel like by watching Michigan-Rutgers, but these two teams will have to undoubtedly adjust over the course of the game.
I’ve watched a ton of coach Steve Pikiell’s team this year as a Rutgers alum, but I’ll tell you why I’m not confident in Rutgers’ offense today. While the Scarlet Knights have likely qualified for their first NCAA Tournament since 1991, they rely far too much on their stellar defense to keep them in games — and their guard play can be especially streaky.
This lack of offensive consistency for Rutgers rears its head especially away from Piscataway, as the Scarlet Knights are 2-12 on the road or on a neutral floor. Maybe playing in front of no fans will fix Rutgers’ road woes, but I’m not comfortable backing them here.