The No. 15 Rutgers Scarlet Knights look to bounce back from a tough home loss when they visit the No. 23 Michigan State Spartans on Tuesday night. Rutgers (7-2, 3-2 Big Ten) fell by two points to Iowa on Saturday, the team’s second loss in three games. Keep reading for BetUS’ Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs Michigan State Spartans NCAAB betting preview.
Meanwhile, Michigan State (7-3, 1-3) won at Nebraska on Saturday to snap a three-game losing streak. The Spartans dropped their last game at home, to Wisconsin on Christmas Day, but are 5-1 at the Breslin Center.
Michigan State has won all 10 previous meetings between these schools, including last season’s lone contest between the two, 77-65. When you go to make your bet online, remember that the Spartans are 2.5-point favorites over the Scarlet Knights in this one.
Rutgers: High-Scoring Bunch
The Scarlet Knights have been making college basketball news with three of the Big Ten’s top 10 scorers, led by junior swingman Ron Harper Jr., who ranks fourth with 22.1 points per game. Harper returned against Iowa after missing the previous contest with an injury, scoring 13 points.
Senior guard Jacob Young led the way against the Hawkeyes with 17 points, and he’s scoring 15.7 points per game to rank ninth in the Big Ten. Young is also tops among conference players in steals with 2.44 per game and third in assists with 5.22 a contest.
Junior guard Montez Mathis’ average of 15.3 points puts him 10th among conference scorers. The Scarlet Knights are balanced, with all five starters scoring at least 13 points against Iowa. Rutgers had 19 assists.
Defensively, the Scarlet Knights are opportunistic, ranking 13th in the nation in blocks per game with 5.4, led by junior center Myles Johnson’s 2.1 per contest.
Mix and Match
Long one of the better coaches during NCAA March Madness, Tom Izzo is having to coach overtime as he is still trying to figure out the best starting five to use heading into Michigan State’s 11th game. The latest switch had freshman AJ Hoggard starting at point guard against Nebraska. Hoggard played well, tallying four points, five assists, and three rebounds in 24 minutes.
The move was necessitated by Izzo’s realization that Rocket Watts shouldn’t be playing point guard. The sophomore is averaging 9.8 points and 3.9 assists but has struggled as the full-time point, with Izzo deciding to move him to the bench as a shooting guard.
One player Izzo isn’t going to be moving to the bench is junior forward Aaron Henry, who is coming off a career-best 27-point effort against Nebraska. Henry leads the Spartans with 13.4 points per game, but he also averages 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.6 steals. Henry is Michigan State’s best one-on-one defender, and the likely matchup between him and Harper will be fun to watch.
Junior forward Joey Hauser will also be key for the Spartans, who don’t have a lot of size inside. Hauser leads Michigan State with 7.9 rebounds per game and is second on the team with 12.3 points per game, but he needs to be more of a presence than he was against the Cornhuskers (five points, six rebounds).
Down To The Wire
These are balanced teams that have good chemistry. The Spartans rank sixth in the country with 20.2 assists per game and hand out assists on 70.4% of their field goals. Rutgers is 16th in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.53.
While Michigan State is tough to beat at home, Rutgers has a confidence and swagger. It also has some strength inside, so it should be able to match the Spartans’ intensity on the board in this one.
This one is going down to the wire, likely to a last-second shot. Take the 2.5 points and put your college basketball picks on Rutgers, which could come away with the win even without the points.