Wake Forest vs Rutgers Odds, Picks | Target the Total
Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Clifford Omoruyi (Rutgers)
Wake Forest vs Rutgers Odds
|Wake Forest Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
In an afterthought affair on the best college basketball slate of the season, Wake Forest looks to notch one more quality win on its resume before heading into the remainder of ACC play.
The Deacons already knocked off Wisconsin on the road, so can they do the same to the Badgers’ Big Ten rivals?
And for Rutgers, it’s a chance to end a two-game slide and get right before a daunting conference schedule.
The Deacons enter this game in desperate need of a second quality win. A relatively weak non-conference schedule didn’t afford Wake too many chances to build its resume, and an overtime loss to Loyola Marymount did it no favors.
After the Wisconsin win on November 29, it appeared Wake had figured things out and was ready to lock in its at-large status. But a 20-point loss at Clemson in the next game and a soul-crushing loss to LSU — in which the Deacs blew a 20-point lead — has thrown its NCAA tournament hopes into question.
A win at the RAC — one of the toughest venues in all of college basketball — would go a long way.
The key for Wake is the health of its star point guard, Tyree Appleby, who went down with a sprained ankle against App State on Wednesday. He’s doubtful for Saturday, which is bad news for the Deacons.
Per Hoop-Explorer, Appleby is vital to Wake’s success on both ends of the floor.
Offensively, Wake scores a muscular 1.13 points per possession when he’s on the floor compared to just 0.901 when he sits. That’s about the difference between the 20th-best offense in the country and the 354th-best offense in the country.
On defense, Wake allows 0.938 points per possession with its star in the lineup. When he sits, that number balloons to 1.28 points per possession. So, about a top-40 defensive team craters to essentially the worst in the country. No big deal.
The caveat to those on/off stats is Appleby plays 34.5 minutes per game — the sample size when he’s off the floor is low.
However, the point still stands that Wake is a much better team when he’s on the court running the offense. He’s the Deacons’ primary creator, best passer, best shooter and best scorer. Wake is in trouble without him.
Rutgers is the third-best defensive team in the country, per KenPom. The Scarlet Knights allow nothing in the paint, force turnovers and have a ton of perimeter length to bother outside shooters.
Without Appleby, the weight falls heavy on the shoulders of Daivien Williamson, Cameron Hildreth and Damari Monsanto. Monsanto missed the last game due to what appears to be disciplinary reasons. Wake will need his services if Appleby can’t go.
Big man Andrew Carr will have his work cut out for him against the likes of Clifford Omoruyi, Aundre Hyatt and Mawot Mag.
Rutgers rarely loses at home. The Knights were 14-3 at the RAC in 2021-22 and 6-0 this year until in-state rival Seton Hall took them down in one of the uglier games of the season.
Saturday’s clash presents an opportunity to not only start a home winning streak anew, but also score a win over a power-conference opponent. To date, Rutgers has just one of those victories, an epic home win over Big Ten foe Indiana.
Rutgers was plagued by injuries to start the season. Its two best players, Caleb McConnell and Paul Mulcahy, were in and out of the lineup for several contests.
Saturday’s game will mark the fourth of the year that Rutgers is fully healthy, and it will be just the second Mulachy has started since returning to the lineup. Translation: it’s likely we will see a more cohesive team against Wake.
Defensively, few teams in the country can match the Scarlet Knights. McConnell is arguably the best perimeter defender in the country, and Omoruyi is one of the best rim protectors.
Head coach Steve Pikiell preaches physicality and effort, and this group has fully bought into that philosophy. Nobody would call this Wake squad small or weak, but there is a stark difference in physicality when compared to Rutgers.
Offense has been the issue for the Scarlet Knights thus far in the season, part of which is due to Mulcahy still getting his feet underneath him as he comes back from injury. His usage rate is down from last season, but we should see him start to ramp up soon.
Loyola (MD) transfer Cam Spencer has been one of Rutgers’ better offensive weapons thus far, but he’s struggled against top-tier competition. In the last four games against power-conference foes, Spencer has an 80.2 offensive rating (bad) and is shooting just 3-of-14 from deep (also bad).
Wake’s defense is solvable, especially if Appleby isn’t in there hounding opposing ball handlers. But the Deacons have done well on the defensive glass, which is key against a Rutgers team that has relied on second-chance opportunities to score.
In order to cover the spread, Rutgers needs good shooting efforts from Spencer and Mulcahy, and it needs to hope that Wake’s defensive rebounding numbers are inflated due to weaker offensive rebounding opponents (they likely are).
Wake Forest vs. Rutgers Betting Pick
The spread feel high in this game for two teams that likely aren’t too far apart in talent or coaching. But you can’t back Wake without knowing if Appleby is in the lineup, and Rutgers’ lack of scoring prowess doesn’t inspire confidence in the Scarlet Knights covering a large spread.
The best bet is likely the under. Without Appleby, Wake will struggle to put points on the board against Rutgers’ vaunted defense.
On the other end, the Scarlet Knights will have their fair share of difficulties. The pace likely falls under 70 possessions.
On the season, Rutgers is 7-3 to the under and its games are going under the closing total by an average of 11 points per game (which is massive).
This will be an ugly game on an otherwise gorgeous college basketball slate.