NCAAB: Rutgers vs. Michigan State odds, preview, and pick

Profile Picture: Dan Halverson

January 4th, 2021

After they started their season with dominant wins, the Michigan State Spartans ran into unexpected turmoil to begin Big Ten play.

With three straight losses — including an embarrassing, 81-56 defeat at Minnesota — the Spartans have to wonder if they are good enough to compete for a title in 2021.

The Spartans will have a chance to get back on track Tuesday, with an important matchup against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

Wed, January 6 2021, 2:00 AM

Michigan State Spartans






O 71

Rutgers Scarlet Knights






U 71

Expect plenty of scoring

Michigan State has an impressive win against Duke on its résumé has struggled defensively in conference play. 

The Spartans rank 80th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency. They give up 96.8 points per 100 possessions. Against a Rutgers team that ranks 17th in the nation in offensive efficiency, at 112.2 points per 100 possessions, something will have to change for the Spartans to slow down a Rutgers offense that has surpassed 68 points in every game this year.

Rutgers' young offense is dynamic

The Rutgers offense is led by Ron Harper Jr., the son of former NBA player Ron Harper. At 6-foot-6, Harper is a dynamic guard who is averaging 22.1 points per game.

He struggled in his last outing, however, against Iowa. He only scored 13 points in the loss, but I anticipate a bounce-back game from the team’s star.

Harper is complemented by three players who average double-digit scoring, including playmaker Jacob Young. In addition to his 15.7 points per game, he averages 5.2 assists.

But Rutgers struggles at the free-throw line, where the Scarlet Knights shoot 60%. Their shortcomings were costly against Iowa, when they shot just 33% from the line and were outscored by 14 points at the stripe in a two-point loss.

The Spartans are a team without an identity

For Michigan State, its recent win against Nebraska removed the goose egg from its conference win record, but it was not an impressive victory against the doormat of the conference.

The Spartans got the game of his career from Aaron Henry, as he contributed 27 points, but they were outrebounded by the guard-centric Huskers and didn’t have the game in hand until within the final minute

Only two other Michigan State players scored in double digits, and it is evident that head coach Tom Izzo has not found the reliable hot hand to call on.

Michigan State is a team still looking for its identity, while Rutgers is an up-and-coming challenger in the tough Big Ten. Look for the road team to show no sympathy for the Spartans’ growing pains.

Score prediction: Rutgers 81, Michigan State 75

NCAAB pick: Rutgers

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