Odds & Pick for Wisconsin vs. Rutgers Basketball: Which Big Ten Team Can Bounce Back?

Odds & Pick for Wisconsin vs. Rutgers Basketball: Which Big Ten Team Can Bounce Back? article feature image
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Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: D’Mitrik Trice.

  • Wisconsin and Rutgers are both seeking a bounce-back win Friday night, but which team will get the job done?
  • Tanner McGrath breaks down this Big Ten battle and explains why the No. 9 Badgers have the edge.
  • Check out McGrath's full analysis and betting pick below.

Wisconsin vs. Rutgers Odds


Wisconsin Odds -3
Rutgers Odds +3
Moneyline N/A
Over/Under 135
Time | TV Friday, 9 p.m. ET FS1
Odds as of Thursday evening and via PointsBet, where you can get $250 FREE instantly after signing up AND your bets automatically sync to the Action app.

Nothing captures the lunacy that is Big Ten basketball better than Wisconsin’s Tuesday night game against Michigan.

Wisconsin played well in the first 10 minutes before Michigan absolutely exploded. Michigan went on a 43-6 run against a Wisconsin team ranked No. 9. It was a bloodbath and nobody saw it coming.

The Badgers head to New Jersey on Friday to play Rutgers, which has been struggling recently, as well. Rutgers has just lost three straight and has stumbled from 2-0 in conference play to 3-4.

In an interesting scenario, both teams will be looking to bounce back. But in this recent stretch, one team has been fumbling a lot more than the other.


What Wisconsin Does Well

Scratch that absolutely embarrassing loss to Michigan, and the Badgers are having an impressive season. Wisconsin is 10-3 overall and 4-2 in conference play. Before the Michigan breakdown, it won four of its first five conference games by an average of 10.5 points.

The Badgers are an experienced, well-rounded and well-coached team. Greg Gard has 10 seniors playing on his 12-man roster, and they all play well together.

Wisconsin takes care of the ball really well and averages just 8.3 turnovers per game, which is third-least in the nation. Add in its 14 assists per game, and the Badgers boast a 1.685 turnover-to-assist ratio, which ranks fifth in the country.

The Badgers play great interior defense, holding opponents to 42.6% shooting from 2-point range. The Badgers currently rank fourth in the Big Ten in defensive efficiency, per KenPom.

Finally, senior guard D’Mitrik Trice has been on fire lately. The Ohio native is averaging 21.8 points in his last five games while shooting 53.7% from the field and 50% from 3.

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Wisconsin’s Struggles

Like Rutgers, Wisconsin has struggled recently.

The Badgers now have three bad losses this season. They lost a road game to Marquette on a buzzer-beater, lost by six at home to Maryland and suffered that beatdown at the hands of Michigan last game.

Additionally, the Badgers are just 2-4 against the spread (ATS) in their last six games. They couldn’t cover against Indiana or Nebraska and somehow lost to Maryland as 10-point favorites.

The Badgers pride themselves on making the 3, shooting it at a 40.5% clip. However, their interior offense has struggled, and it seems to be an exploitable area. They are 10th in the conference in 2-point percentage at 46.4%, and in the loss to Michigan, the Badgers shot just 11-for-37 (29.7%) from 2-point range.

What Rutgers Does Well

I’m writing this section almost ironically. Everything Rutgers can do well, it hasn’t in this recent stretch.

Nonetheless, Rutgers’ success relies on two main things.

First, Rutgers wins when Ron Harper Jr. is playing well. The Scarlet Knights are 4-0 in games that Harper scores more than 20 points. In their two biggest wins this season, against Maryland and Illinois, Harper scored 27 and 26 points, respectively. In both of those games, Harper scored 19 in the second half.

Second, Rutgers wins when it plays efficient defense. The Scarlet Knights are very adept on the defensive end and can overpower some of the best players in the nation. Rutgers beat Maryland by holding the Terrapins to just 60 points on 21-for-61 (34.4%) shooting.

college-basketball-odds-picks-purdue-boilermakers-vs-rutgers-scarlet-knights-betting-december-29
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images. Pictured: Ron Harper Jr.

Rutgers’ Struggles

When Rutgers is executing at its highest level, with a stifling defense and a dominant Harper, they are one of the best teams in the country.

However, that has not been happening in this recent stretch. The Scarlet Knights have lost three straight and lost their last two by 23 and 11, respectively.

Rutgers wins when Harper plays well, but they lose when he plays poorly. Rutgers is 2-4 in games where Harper scores 20 or fewer points. In their last three games — all losses — Harper scored 13, 13 and 11, respectively. He shot 15-for-39 overall and 5-for-16 from 3 in those three losses.

Additionally, Rutgers’ vaunted defense has been quite ineffective lately, especially in conference play. The Scarlet Knights are ranked 11th in the Big Ten in defensive efficiency and are allowing 75 points per game.

Additionally, the Scarlet Knights are abysmal at free-throw shooting. Rutgers is shooting just 58% from the stripe this season and has made only 15 of its 39 attempts in the last three games. Its free-throw shooting is a serious issue and must be addressed if the Scarlet Knights are to be taken seriously moving forward.

Biggest Mismatch

Defensive rebounding will decide this game. Wisconsin has been hitting the defensive glass at an above-average rate, while Rutgers has been terrible in that area.

In Rutgers’ last three games (again, all losses), it lost the defensive rebounding battle. It got out-rebounded on that end 34-21 by Ohio State, 37-16 by Michigan State and 29-23 to Iowa.

In Wisconsin’s last three wins, it won the defensive rebounding battle. On that end, it out-rebounded Indiana, 31-30, Minnesota, 28-23 and Michigan State, 23-21.

I’m expecting Wisconsin to obliterate Rutgers on the defensive boards Friday, and that will make it difficult for Rutgers to win this game.


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Betting Analysis & Pick

Wisconsin opened as 3-point favorites and, at the time of this writing, the line has been steady.

In the Big Ten, home underdogs started the season 7-3 ATS. Moreover, in conference play, Rutgers is 2-0 ATS as a home underdog and Wisconsin is 0-1 ATS as an away favorite.

However, Big Ten home underdogs are 0-3 ATS since the hot start. As conference play ramps up, these teams are able to game plan better for their opponents. I believe that leads to the more talented team winning.

That will happen Friday.

Wisconsin suffered a tough loss to Michigan but otherwise has been playing excellent basketball. Meanwhile, Rutgers has really fallen off since its impressive start, and I believe rebounding deficiencies will come back to haunt the Scarlet Knights.

I’m playing Wisconsin -3 in this spot and would play them up to -4.

Pick: Wisconsin -3 (up to -4)

[Bet Wisconsin now at PointsBet and get $250 FREE.]

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