Bracketologists all over the nation have lost a lot of sleep trying to seed the teams in the middle of the Big Ten Conference this season and two teams that could use some resume-boosting will hook up in New Jersey on Thursday when the Michigan Wolverines take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
Michigan Wolverines vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (-6, 13 3.5)
The Scarlet Knights’ defense has looked significantly better at home than on the road this season, ranking fourth in the nation in points allowed on a per-possession basis overall while allowing 22.8 points per 100 possessions fewer when playing at home.
Rutgers’ defensive success has taken a hit, however, with forward Mawot Mag sidelined for the remainder of the season. As a squad, they are allowing over 17.5 points more per 100 possessions without him on the floor over the past four games.
During this four-game stretch, the offense has also suffered, scoring 60 points or fewer in three of the last four games without Mag, who was averaging 7.8 points and 5.3 rebounds at 24.7 minutes per game.
No other squad in the nation deploys a duo that averages at least 2.2 steals per game like Rutgers has in Cam Spencer and Caleb McConnell. Overall, the defense ranks 17th in turnovers forced per possession at home this season.
Even with Mag already sidelined, Rutgers is as disciplined as it gets when it comes to taking care of the ball.
Michigan ranks fourth in the nation in possessions that end in a turnover in road and neutral court games and enters Thursday’s affair having played some of its best defense of the season.
With Michigan allowing 72 points or fewer in all six games in December and Rutgers struggling without Mag’s presence, this game has upset alert all over it and this Wolverines squad needs a big resume boost.
The Play: Michigan +6
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