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1/21 Big Ten Preview: Wolverines-Scarlet Knights battle in lone Sunday tilt

Can Rutgers pick up back-to-back conference wins or will Michigan bounce back on Sunday?

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Only one game makes up the Sunday slate in the Big Ten this week, but it could very well be an exciting matchup. No. 23 Michigan will host Rutgers early on Sunday in Ann Arbor as the Scarlet Knights search for consecutive wins for the first time in over a month, while the Wolverines are looking to get back on track following a beating earlier this week.

Michigan enters this game as the four-possession favorite over Rutgers, but don’t sleep on the Scarlet Knights. If Rutgers can get another strong offensive showing to go with its normally stifling defense, then the Wolverines could be in trouble. It should be an intriguing game to watch, and is at least worth turning on before the NFL playoff games kickoff.

Let’s take a look at today’s matchup between Rutgers and Michigan.

Big Ten Game of the Day:

Rutgers Scarlet Knights at No. 23 Michigan Wolverines

  • Time/TV: 12:00PM ET/Big Ten Network
  • KenPom Spread: Michigan (-11.5)

Sunday’s lone Big Ten tilt features two teams that enter this matchup in different spots. The Wolverines are searching for a bounce-back win after suffering their worst loss of the season, while Rutgers is coming off a dominant performance earlier this week.

Michigan got punched in the face on Thursday night in Lincoln, with the Cornhuskers handing the Wolverines a 20-point loss. It looked like Michigan just didn’t have its “A” game that day with an uncharacteristic 22.2 three-point percentage and 12 turnovers. It also could have simply been fatigue finally setting in with it being the third game in six days for the Wolverines.

Prior to the loss, Michigan had been rolling with wins in nine of their last 10 games — and that lone loss was by one-point against Purdue. During that stretch, Moritz Wagner has been very good with 14.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. However, he struggled last time out with a season-low two points. That could help explain why Michigan got throttled against the Cornhuskers.

On the other end we have Rutgers, who finally found its offense in a huge win over Iowa earlier this week. The Scarlet Knights dropped 80 points in Wednesday’s 16-point victory over the Hawkeyes. It was only the fourth time this year Rutgers reached 80 points, and the first time since early December.

Wednesday night was great for Rutgers, but it was at home — and the Scarlet Knights are a completely different team away from the RAC. Rutgers is 0-3 on the road this season with an average scoring margin of 19 points. The Scarlet Knights nearly knocked off Michigan State in its last road game, so maybe that is a sign of improvement on the road for this young team.

Yes, you can say Rutgers is coming in with more steam than Michigan if you’re looking at the results from earlier in the week. But overall, Michigan is a better team and has experienced a lot more success this year. Especially lately if you minus the results from Wednesday and Thursday.

Rutgers has some scoring threats in Corey Sanders and Geo Baker who can keep the Scarlet Knights in some games. They also have some decent size up front that could give the Wolverines some trouble. However, Michigan has proven they can rebound from poor performances -- they haven’t lost back-to-back games yet this year — so I’m confident they’ll pull things together today. Too much talent for Michigan and not enough confidence in Rutgers’ ability to win on the road makes this an easy pick for me.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Michigan

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Record against the spread this season: 18-14-1