Heading into the BIG 10, we get two teams still fighting for life to get a possible entry into the big dance come March. Rutgers (12-8) head to the Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston to take on Northwestern (9-10) which is sure to be a grind it out type of game.
Rutgers is a very inconsistent team as we can tell by wins against tough opponents like Purdue and Michigan, but then taking losses to teams such as UMass and Lafayette who pose no threat in their conferences. On offense, the Scarlet Knights rank in the bottom 200 in every category such as pace, field goal percentage, 3 point field goal attempts, and percentage. The only thing promising about this team is their offensive rebounds in which they rank 72nd in the nation. With the pace they run, do not expect this team to go right back up with the ball as they will kick out the offensive rebound and set up the offense again. Northwestern themselves are nothing to write home about as they are average on offense as well and do not rebound the ball particularly well either. One thing we have seen with Rutgers is that defensively they rank 95th in the nation and during their last 10 games, they have not allowed more than 68 points to any opponent. This comes against higher powered offenses such as Iowa, Michigan, and Maryland. Rutgers loves to focus on defense and slow the pace on the offensive end which is what we expect to see here today. Look for a lot of contested shots and sloppy offense during this game as Northwestern will try to focus on going inside to the paint which they will be able to take advantage of with their size over Rutgers.
In 4 of their last 5 meetings, these two teams have combined for an average of 124.5 points. These teams play each other very tough defensively when they match up and I do not see any other type of game today where both teams catch fire offensively. Northwestern will be desperate for a win here at home and will kick it up a notch defensively as they do not like to play shootout games because they can not keep up with that on the offensive side.
Currently, the odds sit at Northwestern -5 (-110) O/U 132.5. As mentioned above, I do not expect a sudden up tempo style of play from either team here today. Look for a scrappy defensive and sloppy offensive game today.
Rutgers/Northwestern U132.5 (-110) - 1 unit
Odds via BetUS