Rutgers guard Geo Baker brings the ball up court during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
- Ohio State (8-3) heads to #15 Rutgers (7-3) on Saturday
- The Scarlet Knights have dropped three of four games
- The odds for the game, as well as matchup analysis and a pick, can be found in the article below
After a brutal road loss on Tuesday, #15 Rutgers is almost certain to drop out of the AP rankings unless it can beat Ohio State at home on Saturday, Jan. 9 at 12pm ET.
The Scarlet Knights met the Buckeyes once already this season, but it was in Columbus — where Ohio State has yet to lose a game at its home arena. Now the season series shifts to Piscataway, New Jersey, and Rutgers will look to avenge its previous loss.
Ohio State vs Rutgers Odds
|Ohio State||+3.5 (-110)||N/A||Over 139.5 (-110)|
|Rutgers||-3.5 (-110)||N/A||Under 139.5 (-110)|
Odds as of Jan. 8th, 2020
How They’ve Fared So Far
Not much has changed for Ohio State since we looked at them a few days ago, ahead of a would-be matchup with Penn State. That game was postponed due to positive COVID-19 results. The positive results came within the Nittany Lions’ program, so Ohio State has no issue proceeding with Saturday’s game against Rutgers.
Penn State men’s basketball has paused all team-related activities due to positive COVID-19 results among its Tier 1 personnel. Due to the pause, the Nittany Lions’ home games against Michigan (Jan. 9) and Rutgers (Jan. 12) have been postponed. https://t.co/x9vHy0jo4x
— Penn State Men’s Basketball (@PennStateMBB) January 6, 2021
In terms of recent results, Ohio State suffered its worst loss of the season its last time out, losing 77-60 to #16 Minnesota. The Buckeyes matched their worst offensive performance of the year, which is concerning. But it cannot fully overshadow their best wins of the season, which have come over Rutgers (more on that later) and UCLA, which rank 29th and 32nd in KenPom, respectively.
Here’s a little something to get you fired up before today’s game:
✔️ Career High
✔️ 25 Points
✔️ 5-5 from 3@MontezMathis 🎯 pic.twitter.com/rxOWElQfVO
— Rutgers Basketball 🏀 (@RutgersMBB) January 2, 2021
Rutgers is also coming off its worst loss of 2020-21. The Scarlet Knights’ Achilles heal — their free throw shooting — was a big factor again in Tuesday’s 68-45 loss to #23 Michigan State. Rutgers shot 6-of-17 (35.3%) from the foul line in that one, dragging themselves down to 334th in NCAA Division I in free throw shooting (58.4% as a team this season).
The Scarlet Knights do, in fairness, have four wins against KenPom top-50 opponents already, including Illinois, Purdue (who beat Ohio State), Syracuse and Maryland.
Ohio State was blown out against the spread earlier this week against Minnesota, but went 3-1-1 in its recent games prior to that. On the season, the Buckeyes are an even 5-5-1 ATS — but they’re 0-3-1 ATS on the road.
Rutgers is 5-4-1 ATS this season, but without any recent trend to speak of. And as the home team, the Scarlet Knights are 4-2-1 — having covered four in a row in their own building.
Good news for Rutgers, as starting guard Geo Baker (averaging 9.4 points, 3.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game) is expected to play.
Senior guard CJ Walker will miss time with torn ligaments in his right hand, Head Coach Chris Holtmann announced Thursday. pic.twitter.com/Khnh7RuCRx
— Ohio State Hoops (@OhioStateHoops) January 7, 2021
Baker left Tuesday’s game against Michigan State with an ankle injury and has already missed two games this year with a similar issue. But Rutgers coach Steve Pickiell said Thursday that “Geo will be fine.”
Bad news for Ohio State, as starting guard C.J. Walker (averaging 8.7 points, 4.2 assists, 2.8 rebounds per game) will miss time with torn ligaments in his hand.
Ohio State has won three in a row ATS and straight up in this head-to-head matchup, none of which are more important than their last meeting in Columbus. The Buckeyes used a truly dominant inside game to defeat the Scarlet Knights 80-68.
Ohio State won the rebound battle by 20 and shot 59% from inside the arc. Still, Rutgers held a double-digit lead inside the final 15 minutes, and a four-point lead inside of five minutes, before a late 24-3 run from the Buckeyes put the game away.
In other words, Rutgers didn’t play that well, but it still took a total collapse for Ohio State to win. We like how the Scarlet Knights have trended at home lately, and we believe they’re a strong pick to cover.
Pick: Rutgers -3.5 (-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.