Even though Rutgers is the higher seed in the Big Ten tournament, the public really isn’t buying the Scarlet Knights as a sure thing for the NCAA tournament or as a better team than Iowa. The public and the books are both backing the Hawkeyes here, despite Rutgers winning the only meeting between the two and having a day of rest while Iowa was lighting up Northwestern.
That begs the question: will the time off for Rutgers help or hurt their chances in this quarterfinal? While the Scarlet Knights were off, Iowa wasted no time hitting the gas and burying Northwestern, and the Hawkeyes now have the experience of dropping 112 points in their first game in this arena. With how quickly Iowa normally plays, teams usually don’t have time to figure things out on the fly before the Hawkeyes bury them in an avalanche of baskets. But if anyone has reason not to be scared of Iowa’s offense, it’s Rutgers, given that the Scarlet Knights already played Iowa once and managed to win with just 48 points.
Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights Odds, Trends, and Picks
Opening Betting Odds and Lines
|(23-9 SU, 20-12 ATS)
||(18-12 SU, 13-15-2 ATS)
When: 2pm, Friday, March 11th
Where: Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
Betting the Total
This is going to be one of the trickiest totals of the year to try to hit because we just don’t know which team’s style is going to dominate the game. The first game between these teams was actually played closer to Iowa’s liking; the Hawkeyes just couldn’t hit anything and allowed Rutgers’ defense to carry the day. But if the teams combine for around 125 shots again, this is going to go over the total.
The only ways I can see this going under are if Iowa either opts to play at Rutgers’ pace to conserve energy for Saturday or if the Hawkeyes again have problems hitting good looks at the basket. But otherwise, I think Iowa is going to force Rutgers to make shots to win, and that will push the number higher.
I recommend backing Over 144.5.
Backing the Spread
Iowa has been an excellent spread bet all season long, but the Hawkeyes are really at their best when they’re getting points against one of the Big Ten’s powerhouses, not when they’re giving points to a team that’s right up there with them in the standings.
This game really means everything to Rutgers, and even though I do not believe that the Scarlet Knights will hold Iowa to 46 points again, I do think the Rutgers defense can make life difficult for Iowa. The Scarlet Knights pride themselves on their defensive effort, and it’s rare to see them give up more than 60 in a game.
Throw in a slow, deliberate style of offense from the Scarlet Knights, and there’s not really a justification as to why this spread is as high as it is. I expect there to be a feeling-out period, and from there I think Rutgers hangs tough and could easily win its way into the NCAA tournament. They should be able to stick within three possessions of Iowa.
I recommend playing Rutgers +6.5.