Vanderbilt has still yet to lose so far, but the team's biggest test should come this evening. Come see why we're liking Rutgers to cover as the college basketball betting underdogs.
Aiming to protect their undefeated record, the Commodores come in favored by six points on most NCAA basketball odds, but there is a spread of 5.5 out there too. A total had yet to have been released at time of writing, but it's not like either team has been an unstoppable force on the offensive end. Don't expect a huge number.
All things considered, the Commodores were disappointing last season, especially when it mattered most. They closed out the season with five straight losses and ended up with a 16-17 regular season record. Each season is a different beast though, and Vanderbilt has managed to start off hot, winning each of its first four games. All four victories came by double digits.
But, we can't look past the competition levels so far. The Commodores' wins have come over Trevecca Nazarena, Lipscomb, Tennessee State and Norfolk State, so we're not sold that this is a team to be reckoned with just yet. They'll have to prove it against more talented teams first.
Four different Commodores are averaging in double figures, with Damian Jones leading the way. He's averaged 16.0 PPG and 8.3 RPG in four contests, while Luke Kornet, Riley LaChance and Wade Baldwin IV have also been scoring at a good clip. Baldwin's IV's versatility has shone through, as he's putting up 10.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG and 6.0 APG thus far.
In spite of their 4-0 start, this Vandy squad is still young. Their top six scorers are either sophomores or freshmen, so we're a little worried about the lack of experience in general. We'll see how the Commodores far against the pesky Scarlet Knights here at home.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
There's no way around it: the Scarlet Knights have struggled out of the gate. They've gone 2-2, with their two losses coming at the hands of George Washington and Saint Peter's. Against the Peacocks, Rutgers was a complete mess offensively, shooting 37.5 percent on their way to just 50 total points. This came on their own court no less.
Junior Etou had 16 points and six boards, while Myles Mack went for 13 points, seven assists and four steals, but overall it was a day to forget for the Scarlet Knights. They hit only 5-of-24 from the 3-point line, and were outrebounded 36-26 by the visiting Peacock, who by the way have lost each of their other four games (1-4) this season.
Needless to say, Rutgers can't be too pleased with its latest showing, and there's no way they can play any worse than they just did against a bad Saint Peter's team. The Scarlet Knights do have talent, and have had pulled off some great results in recent years, but they need to kick it into high gear sooner rather than later. It starts with Mack, who's going to be at the heart of everything Rutgers does. He should prove to be a handful for Vanderbilt's young backcourt tonight.
NCAA Basketball Pick
The value appears to be on the road team as we approach making our final sports picks.
It could be that odds makers are overreacting to Vanderbilt's sparkling 4-0 start, but as we mentioned, the strength of schedule (or lack thereof) is a concern. In addition, they may lack the leadershiip needed to perform well when the going gets tough. We just need to see more before trusting these Commodores.
It's not like Rutgers has been playing too well, but Mack is a great player and this is a team that at least has some veterans within its squad. We look for the Scarlet Knights to be well worth backing with your NCAA basketball picks.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Rutgers Scarlet Knights +6 at 5Dimes