Rutgers will look to snap a three-game Big Ten losing streak when ninth-ranked Wisconsin comes to town. Here’s our free College Basketball Pick for this game.
Wisconsin Badgers vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Friday, January 15, 2021 – 09:00 PM EST at Rutgers Athletic Center
Rutgers will have a tall task, as it looks, to snap a three-game Big Ten losing streak against No. 9 Wisconsin on Friday night. While ranked in the AP Top 10, nationally, the Badgers find themselves fourth in the Big Ten, a game out of second and part of four teams clustered between three and six in the standings. Wisconsin is 10-3, 4-2 in conference, but the Badgers have split their last four games, losing to Maryland at home and on the road to Michigan by 23 points the last time out.
An angry Wisconsin team coming off a blowout loss is the last thing Rutgers needed. The Scarlet Knights have dropped their last three games, including two at home. Rutgers is 7-4, 3-4 in conference and have lost four of the last five, including a sweep at the hands of Ohio State and a 23 point loss at Michigan State. The Knights are part of a four-team tie for seventh in the Big Ten.
Getting Through the Injury Storm
Part of the reason Rutgers has spiraled following a 7-1 start to the year is that the Scarlet Knights have been hit by injury. Senior guard Geo Baker rolled his ankle in the Michigan State loss, a concern since he missed time in December with ankle problems. He played 29 minutes the last time out against Ohio State, however. Ron Harper Jr. missed the December 29 game against Purdue with an ankle injury, although he’s seemed back to 100 percent in recent games. Jacob Young was also hobbled following a hard fall in late December, although he also seems to be back to full health. Rutgers has had six days since its last game, which helped the walking wounded recover. Coach Steve Pikiell said all three players “have been good health-wise, so knock on wood.”
The same cannot be said of 6-foot-11 freshman Cliff Omoruyi, who has missed five games with a knee sprain. Omoruyi just recently returned to practice, and it’s possible that he’ll return for the Wisconsin game, although his minutes would likely be limited if he does play. “The break has been good,” Pikiell said. “He is starting to do some drills with us. I don’t have any other update, other than he is doing some stuff. That’s a good sign for us. He hadn’t practiced at all and now he is out on the court and doing certain drills. There are certain time restraints that he’s on. But it is obviously really good to see him back on the floor and moving around a little bit. We’ll see if he can do some more contact. To get him up and moving has been a really good thing for us.”
Getting Past Michigan
It’s an understatement to say that Wisconsin is not happy about its 77-54 loss at Michigan on Tuesday, the worst loss since Greg Gard took over as head coach. The Badgers didn’t even return Madison following the loss. Instead, Wisconsin went straight to New Jersey, symbolically moving on to the next game as soon as possible. “We just weren’t ourselves,” center Micah Potter said of the loss. “It’s something that Coach talked about. Everything that kind of went wrong, it’s just not Wisconsin basketball. It’s not who we are.”
The Badgers, always rock solid on defense, need to get their offense on track. Senior point guard D’Mitrik Trice has been hot, averaging 21.8 ppg in the last five games and shooting 50 percent from three over that span. The rest of the team has failed to pick him up, though. Trice has produced 30 percent of Wisconsin’s points over that five-game stretch. Trice and fellow senior Micah Potter combined for 32 points against Michigan. The rest of the team matched that point total, shooting 8-of-41.
This is not the game for Rutgers to get well. When making your NCAAB pick at the online sportsbooks, expect a highly-focused Wisconsin team with much to prove to show up at the RAC on Friday and hit on all cylinders in a lopsided return to form.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.