Rutgers is slipping for those picking the field for the NCAA Tournament. Can the Scarlet Knights pick up a very rare Big Ten road win Wednesday?
At the moment, Rutgers is still one of the prospected 10 teams from the Big Ten to reach the Big Dance at 18-10 (16-11 ATS). However, the Scarlet Knights are down to the nine-spot by all accounts and if Indiana would happen to pass them and they cannot find an away victory of any kind and someone from another power conference gets hot or unexpectedly wins a conference tournament to steal an automatic bid, Rutgers could be vulnerable.
After easily exceeding expectations this season, Penn State has hit the wall a bit with two straight setbacks and is 20-7 (16-11 ATS) on the season and fallen into a second-place tie at the moment with multiple teams. The Nittany Lions are looking to get back on track and their mission is to finish as the No.2 seed going into the conference tourney.
The college basketball odds at Intertops had Penn State as a six-point opening favorite.
What is Causing Rutgers Road Woes?
If Rutgers backers are getting uncomfortable about how their team is playing away from home, given what is at stake, it’s justified. Having a 17-1 SU home record is sensational and before the season any Scarlet Knights fan would agree, being in contention for an NCAA bid would be awesome. Nevertheless, expectations have changed and when you have not been invited to be a part of March Madness since 1991, you get squeamish.
Rutgers is 1-9 SU in all non-home outings and their lone victory was at Nebraska back on Jan. 3, when they won 79-64 as 4.5-point away faves.
The Knights are not getting blown out and in true roadies as their margin of defeat is an average of 4.1 PPG, which is small for eight contests (1-7 SU) and they are 5-3 ATS. The problem for coach Steve Pikiel’s club appears to be a lack of belief. At home, the Knights confidence does not waver, but on the road, they are less confident and at crunch time, they are hoping to win rather than seizing the moment. Can they finally get over the hump in Pennsylvania?
Penn State Suddenly Uncomfortable in New Role
For virtually Penn State’s entire time playing basketball in the Big Ten, they have been the hunters. Yes, they have enjoyed winning seasons and played extremely well for long stretches, yet, have never been a marked squad that others wanted to beat.
After rattling off eight straight wins and covers to reach 20-5 nationally and earn a spot in the Top 10, the Nittany Lions played like the lion in the “Wizard of Oz” against Illinois and at Indiana. After averaging over 78 PPG, the Nittany Lions have posted a 60 and 56 last week.
It’s not easy to climb the ladder and when you have not been “dancing” in nine years, you can get a little tight as the hunted.
It would help Penn State immensely to have senior guard Myreon Jones back, who has missed five games with an illness. Jones is listed as “day to day”, but it’s up to the doctors and him. At least the Lions will have the revenge card to play, having lost at Rutgers 71-62 last month.
Both teams have a decided sense of urgency to feel good about themselves. For college basketball picks we’ll side with Penn State playing at home, where they are 13-2 SU and 9-5 ATS, winning by 14.8 PPG.
Just don’t see where Rutgers is going to feel comfortable on the road and if they fall behind by 8 or 10 points, where they will dig in and make a comeback. The Nittany Lions come through in this one.
Free College Basketball Pick: Penn State -6 (-105) at Intertops