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1/22 Big Ten Preview: Rutgers at Minnesota

Preview Saturday’s Big Ten action.

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Minnesota David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten is down one game due to Covid protocols, but still has two great games slated for today.

Let’s take a look at the games.

Game of the Day:

-Rutgers Scarlet Knights (11-6, 5-2) at Minnesota Golden Gophers (10-5, 1-5)

  • Time/TV: 12:00 PM EST (Big Ten Network)
  • Tallysight Spread: Minnesota -1.5

Rutgers had a tough start to the season, but has won six of the last seven and sits in the top-five of the Big Ten standings entering today’s matchup. Minnesota is hoping to have some players back after being shorthanded last Sunday to Iowa due to Covid and had to cancel a game Wednesday at Penn State. The Golden Gophers will look to right the ship after a promising 10-1 start to the season has floundered of late in conference action.

The Scarlet Knights look to overcome a poor record on the road today, particularly on the offensive end. Overall on the seas, Rutgers is averaging just 67.8 points per game, good for 195th nationally. Ron Harper Jr. has been the big difference maker for the team, averaging 16.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg, and 1.3 spg while shooting a blistering 58.9 percent from the floor. Geo Baker adds in 10.9 ppg and 4.2 apg. Defense will need to travel for the Scarlet Knights to stand a shot, though. Rutgers is giving up just 63.9 ppg, though, good for 63rd nationally.

Minnesota is giving up just 66.3 ppg, but is also averaging the exact same in scoring as Rutgers with 67.8 ppg. Jamison Battle leads the team with 18 ppg and 6.3 rpg, while Payton Willis is second with 15.5 ppg, adding 3.7 apg and 1.8 spg as well. E.J. Stephens rounds out the double digit scorers with 12 ppg. The Golden Gophers will likely struggle against the stout Scarlet Knight defense despite home court advantage given Minnesota has averaged just 63.7 ppg in conference play at Williams Arena this season.

Expect a defensive heavy game in this one. While Minnesota may struggle to put this game out of reach at any point, particularly with a roster suffering from a Covid outbreak, Rutgers has struggled on the road. The Barn is a tough place to play and the Scarlet Knights likely lack the horsepower on offense to get the win there.

  • Pick: Minnesota

The Rest:

-Penn State Nittany Lions (8-7, 3-4) at Iowa Hawkeyes (13-5, 3-4)

  • Time/TV: 4:30 PM EST (Big Ten Network)
  • Tallysight Spread: Iowa -10

Iowa enters this one coming off a loss Wednesday at Rutgers that saw the Hawkeyes score just 46 points. Penn State had its game Wednesday against Minnesota postponed and thus has been off since a five point loss at Ohio State last Sunday. These teams will play each other again just nine days from now, but for now each sit tied in the league standings at eighth with a 3-4 record. Iowa is the home team, though, and is 10-1 at home.

The matchup to keep an eye on in this one will be between Iowa sophomore forward Keegan Murray (23.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2.1 bpg, 1.5 spg, and 1.2 apg) and Penn State junior forward Seth Lundy (14.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.0 spg, 0.6 bpg, and 1.0 apg). The Nittany Lions will need to find a way to limit Iowa offensively to have a chance, and limiting Murray would be the best place to start to achieve that.

  • Pick: Iowa

Nebraska at Ohio State was postponed due to COVID-19 issues amongst the Husker roster.