Rutgers (13-18 SU, 11-12 ATS) vs. Minnesota (15-16 SU, 11-19 ATS)
Date/Time: Wednesday, February 28, 2018, at 7:55 PM ET
Where: Madison Square Garden
TV: Big Ten
by Rich Crew, Expert NCAA Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Rutgers -1
Over/Under Total: 133.5
The Scarlet Knights and the Golden Gophers head to New York to battle it out in the first round of the Big Ten tournament on the court at Madison Square Garden. The oddsmakers at many of the online sportsbooks have Rutgers as a small -1 point favorite over Minnesota with the total line at 133.5.
The Scarlet Knights come into this game an ice-cold 1-10 straight up in their last 11 games. Rutgers isn’t a team that has had a lot of close losses. The opposite is true with eight of the ten losses being by double digits. They havent played consistently well at either end of the court, but their offensive play has let them down scoring a dismal 63.5 points per game on 39.2 FG% shooting and 28.9% from behind the arc. That number drops to an unheard of 57.89 in Big Ten play.
The Golden Gophers have matched the Scarlet Knights record over their last 11 games going 1-10 SU and 2-9 versus the betting line. Unlike their opponent, for the most part, Minnesota hasn’t had any difficulty scoring points with a 75.8 average this campaign on 43.4 shooting. Their defense has been the culprit especially in recent games where they have allowed 80 points or higher in regulation time in five of their last six matches.
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This game will be the second meeting between these two clubs this season. Back on December 13, the Golden Gophers hosted the Scarlet Knights, and they put a beating on them never taking their foot off the pedal in an 89-67 victory. The win by Minnesota was their fifth in six games over Rutgers, and it was the fourth point spread cover over the last five in this series. The OVER has also been a successful wager in this matchup with all but one of the six contests falling UNDER the total line.
As noted earlier in the analysis, Rutgers offense is dismal. They rank 337th in the nation in scoring, 343rd in in FG% and 350 in three-point shooting. Defensively they have OK numbers on the season with a 17th ranked scoring defense allowing 64.5 points per game, but that number climbs in Big Ten games to just below 70. Minnesota’s offense has a considerable edge statistically, scoring 75.8 PPG, but the number drops to below 70 in conference games making the advantage misleading.
This first round game is an ugly matchup that has been made worse by the status of a trio of players on the Gophers side. The reports I have been reading state that Guard Nate Mason will play, but he’s dealing with a lot of pain, and he’s not 100%, and there’s not much on scoring on the team besides Forward Jordan Murphy if Mason is laboring. Note that Minnesota has scored fewer than 60 points in regulation in four of their last five games. Rutgers is hard pressed to score no matter who they play, and on the road, they’ve averaged 55.3 points per game, and I don’t look for that to improve on a neutral court tonight. Im tempted to play Minnesota here, but I believe theres better value in the total.
Rich Crews Pick: Take the UNDER 133.5 at a sportsbook that has -105 lines- Save money on every bet at 5Dimes!