Ohio State vs. Rutgers NCAA Basketball Picks and Predictions

E.J. Liddell #32 of the Ohio State Buckeyes dunks against Penn State. Emilee Chinn/Getty Images/AFP

No. 16 Ohio State makes a potentially treacherous trip to New Jersey to face Rutgers on their home floor. The Buckeyes have won four of five in the Garden State vs. their Big Ten partner and the odds suggest this will not be a cakewalk.

What can happen when you walk into Jersey Mike’s Arena in Piscataway when you don’t have your mind in the right place as the visitor? You can be submarined! That’s what happened to Michigan State last Saturday, as they were lambasted 84-63 by Rutgers, who shot a season-high 61.5 percent.

Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann will no doubt lay down the law with his club about being mentally prepared to do battle. The Scarlet Knights made the NCAA Tournament last season for the first time after a three-decade absence.

It won’t be easy for Rutgers to make the Big Dance again, but knocking the Spartans and the Buckeyes, are steps in the right direction.

Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Wednesday, February 09, 2022 – 07:00 PM EST at Jersey Mike’s Arena

Sportsbooks like Bet365 are showing Rutgers respect and have them as a 2.5-point home underdog, with the total at 136.5.

Ohio State Just Trying to Move up Big Ten Standings

With an 8-3 record in the Big Ten, Ohio State and all its partners realize how hard it is to win in this conference. Though style points are considered necessary in some circles, in the Big Ten, for the most part, winning is good enough, with the understanding every game is considered a battle.

Every contest has been a battle for the Buckeyes on the road with a 4-5 SU and ATS record, and a negative scoring margin of -0.4 points a contest.

This doesn’t make Ohio State a bad team, as with few exceptions, most clubs struggle away from home. That’s where leadership has to come into play and that falls on junior E.J. Liddell, who is the Buckeyes top player.

One problem with that is in college hoops, that is typically a guard, who handles the ball more. Coach Holtmann’s top backcourt player is a freshman, Malaki Branham, and he’s not ready to take that role yet. But toughness and leadership are how you win on the road.

Rutgers Trying to Survive Conference Gauntlet

Coach Steve Pikiell is like most head coaches, he wants his squad to focus on one game at a time. This method is particularly helpful where Rutgers is in their conference schedule. The Scarlet Knights clash against Michigan State was the first of five matchups versus ranked opponents in the Big Ten. That’s right, five!

With Ohio State tonight, next is at Wisconsin, Illinois, and at Purdue, before having a ‘breather’ against Michigan, who was supposed to be this mix.

Rutgers is not close talent-wise to some of the others in the conference, yet, they still have a few very good players. The Knights are led by senior forward Ron Harper Jr. who leads them in scoring and is second in cleaning the glass.

Fellow senior Geo Baker is the second-best scorer and is second in dishing out dimes. In the pivot is 6’11 sophomore Clifford Omoruyi, who’s the top rebounder and third-leading scorer.

Rutgers is a defensive-minded group that concedes only 40.7 percent shooting but does have some offensive limitations beyond its top three players.

What is the Best Side to Be On?

While we highly respect what Rutgers did last year and are doing thus far, for college basketball picks, we cannot support them.

The Scarlet Knights are coming off a near-perfect performance against the Spartans and it is difficult to come close to such an effort in two straight games. Look what happened to Duke in nailing North Carolina and being upset by Virginia in Durhan in their next outing.

We do respect Rutgers is 20-9 ATS at home when playing against a team with a winning record the last three seasons, but we’re more impressed Ohio State is 7-0 ATS in road games versus foes with a shooting percent defense of 42% lower after 15+ games in the season since last year.

It might come down to the final minutes, nevertheless, we are backing the Buckeyes.

NCAAB Pick: Ohio State -2.5 (-110) at Bet365