Rutgers guard Jacob Young (42) puts up a shot over the Indiana defense during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in Bloomington, Ind. Rutgers won 74-70. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)
- Michigan State (8-4, 2-4 Big Ten) battles Rutgers (8-6, 4-6 Big Ten) on Thursday, Jan. 28, at 7pm ET
- The Spartans, who won handily when these teams played earlier this month, haven’t had a game since Jan. 8
- The odds for the game, as well as matchup analysis and a pick, can be found in the article below
How do you factor potential rust into your decision as a bettor? That’s a question worth asking when considering Thursday’s game between Michigan State and Rutgers (tip off at 7pm ET), which will be the Spartans’ first game in nearly three weeks.
One of Michigan State’s most recent games was against Rutgers, and the Spartans won that matchup handily. But will the time off make them rusty? And does that even matter?
Michigan State vs Rutgers Odds
|Michigan State||+2.5 (-110)||N/A||Over 140.5 (-110)|
|Rutgers||-2.5 (-110)||N/A||Under 140.5 (-110)|
Odds as of Jan. 27th, 2020.
How They’ve Fared Recently
Let’s first tackle Michigan State, who doesn’t have much on-court action to speak of lately. The Spartans have played just three times since the new year began, and not at all since their Jan. 8 loss to Purdue.
After that, the Spartans were forced to cancel a handful of games and nearly two weeks of practice as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak among the team and staff members. Head coach Tom Izzo believes the worst times are behind the team, and here’s hoping that’s true.
If you’re keeping score at home, MSU is up to 13 of 15 players who have had COVID-19 since late August, plus at least 6 staffers
Not how they would have wanted it, but it bodes well for availability the rest of the way. Izzo: “We’re running out of people for it to happen to.”
— Kyle Austin (@kylebaustin) January 26, 2021
When they have been able to play, the Spartans are the best in the nation at sharing the ball (70.6% assist per field goal rate, first in NCAA Division I) and are top-50 in KenPom’s rankings in both offensive and defensive adjusted efficiency. A solid team that, after 20 days off, will have to prove itself all over again.
Rutgers has played a much more regular schedule, including four games in the time the Spartans have sat on the sidelines. The Scarlet Knights are 1-3 in that span, but they’re coming off a win at Indiana.
In that 74-70 win, the Scarlet Knights shot uncharacteristically well from the foul line: 12-of-17 (70.6%). Their season average is 57.9% (346th in D-I), so that was either an anomaly or a positive sign for what’s to come.
Michigan State is an unsightly 3-9 against the spread, with ATS losses in eight of their past nine games. Three of those losses came straight up, with Michigan State as the favorites. It’s worth noting that the Spartans’ lone ATS win of late came against Rutgers, a 23-point win as a three-point favorite.
“I came back to MSU because I want to reach my full potential.”@hennny11 | @MSU_Basketball
MSU is a special place and nobody knows that more than Henry. Hear why he made the decision to come back and how his role on the team has grown. pic.twitter.com/jDI7oLY6FJ
— Spartan Athletics (@MSU_Athletics) January 27, 2021
Rutgers is 6-7-1 ATS, but just 1-4 ATS of late. They’re also an even 4-4-1 ATS at home on the season.
Michigan State has won 10 in a row straight up against Rutgers (dating back to 2015), which is interesting but not entirely relevant here. From an ATS standpoint, these teams have split four matchups over the past three seasons.
Of course, we’re lucky to have seen Michigan State and Rutgers face off already this month, with the Spartans nabbing a 68-45 win at home despite committing twice as many turnovers as the Scarlet Knights (18-9).
The Spartans are nearly back to full health — their top four scorers, and six of seven, are expected to play — which is a great sign. Even if there’s some rust, bettors should be confident riding with a team that dusted Rutgers just a few weeks ago.
Pick: Michigan State +2.5 (-110)
Jordan Horrobin is a sports journalist whose MLB, NHL, NFL and NCAA work has appeared in outlets such as The Athletic, MLB.com, the Detroit Free Press and more. He is currently based in Toronto, also working as a contributor for Forbes.com and a freelance editor for Sportsnet.