NCAAM Pick December 29, 2020 – Purdue Boilermakers at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Yesterday when I backed the Minnesota Golden Gophers as home underdogs, I said that I didn’t know for sure if this team was for real or not. Well, I know now! The Gophers proved to the world that they are absolutely legit contenders in the Big 10 this year, when they picked up their third consecutive win over a top-50 team, this time knocking off the Michigan State Spartans.

Minnesota dominated the game from the opening tip, holding the Spartans to just 16 first-half points. The Gophers didn’t let up in the second half either and finished off Sparty 81-56, for a blowout home court victory. The Gophers had already debuted in the top-25 of the AP Poll yesterday before this game, and with the win, they are only going to move up the rankings. Their 9 wins on the season so far are the most of any team in the Big 10, and this team is quickly becoming one that nobody wants to play.

For Michigan State, the loss will likely drop them out of the top-25 nationally, and after running the table in the non-conference with nice wins over Notre Dame and Duke, the Spartans have started out Big 10 play by losing their first 3 league games. While none of those losses are awful ones, the Spartans have to find a way to stop the bleeding and get some wins on the board in the nation’s toughest conference. For today’s free daily betting pick, we will stay right here in the Big 10 as we head to New Jersey, where Rutgers hosts Purdue.

Today’s Game

  • Purdue Boilermakers (7-3) at Rutgers Scarlet Knights (6-1)
  • RAC, Piscataway
  • 4:00 PM PST
  • TV: FS1

The Scarlet Knights of Rutgers host the Purdue Boilermakers tonight in a Big 10 conference game, looking to pick up their 3rd conference win of the season tonight at home. Rutgers lost their last game, on the road at Ohio State, but does have wins over Illinois and Maryland in league play and they find themselves just a game back of first place in the Big 10 standings. A win tonight over Purdue would go a long way into seeing the Scarlet Knights finish in the top half of the Big 10 standings and earning a trip to the NCAA tournament.

For Purdue, the Boilermakers have surprised a lot of people this season, as they are playing quality basketball. After losing a bunch of talent in the last couple of seasons, it looked like a rebuilding year at Purdue, but at 7-3, they have more than held their own. Wins over Maryland, Notre Dame, and Ohio State tell me that this Boilermakers team is closer to the field of 68 than most people are giving them credit for right now.

Spread:

  • Rutgers Scarlet Knights (-3)
  • Purdue Boilermakers (+3)
Money line:

  • Rutgers Scarlet Knights (-145)
  • Purdue Boilermakers (+125)
Total Points:

  • Over 136 (-110)
  • Under 136 (-110)

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (6-1)

With the Big 10 being as loaded as it is this season, some of these teams are flying under the radar. There is likely no team in the league that is getting less national attention right now than the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. The Scarlet Knights have been ranked in the AP Poll for basically the entire season and were just outside of the top-10, coming in at 11th in last week’s poll, before dropping to 14th this week with the loss to Ohio State. Yet, despite being a fringe top-10 team, there just isn’t a lot of people talking about Rutgers.

Rutgers has a balanced attack as they play tough defense and efficient offense. They share the basketball, block shots, and rebound. Really the only thing they don’t do well is shoot free throws, as they have been awful at the charity stripe at 60.3% as a team. Head coach Steve Pikiell has seen his team move up the national rankings on Kenpom in each of his five seasons running the program, and that has culminated this year in a team that is ready to compete for a Big 10 title, whether the media wants to take notice or not.

Purdue Boilermakers (7-3)

Matt Painter hated what happened to his Boilermakers in the offseason. After thinking he was going to have an experienced and talented roster this year, two of his top returning seniors decided to unexpectedly bolt the school as transfers, and now instead of a Big 10 championship-level team, he has an NCAA tournament bubble team. But after a decent start to the season, it’s looking like Painter’s squad just might be a little better than expected, as they have been able to beat some solid competition.

At home, Purdue has been particularly good as they are 5-0 with wins over Maryland and Ohio State. The struggles for the Boilermakers have been exclusively away from West Layfette, as they are just 2-3 on neutral floors or true road games. None of those three losses were bad ones, as Iowa, Miami, and Clemson are all top-100 teams, but things aren’t going to get any easier tonight against an underrated Rutgers team.

Who Do I Like?

I think Rutgers wins this game tonight, and I am not sure it’s going to be overly competitive. The Scarlet Knights have been elite at home in the last couple of years, last year running up an 18-1 record in the RAC. Of those 18 home wins last year, 8 of them came against the top-50. Opposing teams just don’t go into New Jersey and win very often.

And when you look at Purdue, nearly all of their struggles have been away from home. In a league as loaded as the Big 10 is this year, they have a whopping 9 teams ranked in the top-25 this week, there is going to have to be good teams that are left out in March. I think Purdue is going to end up being one of those teams. If they can’t find a way to win on the road, I don’t think they have a path to a winning record in league play, and I think they are going to be on the outside looking in come March.

The Bet

Surprisingly enough, this line opened up at Rutgers -4 points, and the early betting action has come in on Purdue. I am not sure what the public sees in the Boilermakers on the road in this one, but as usual, they got it wrong. The Big 10 is always a home dominated league, and this year is no different. I wouldn’t want to lay a bunch of points, but one possession’s worth of points seems mighty reasonable in a game that could end up being a double-digit victory for Rutgers.

In each of Purdue’s 3 losses, they have lost by more than 3 points. In 2 of those 3 losses, they got blown out by double digits. That is what I see happening tonight in this one. Rutgers is just too good at home not to expect a strong effort and good performance out of them. I’ll back the Scarlet Knights and not expect to have to sweat it too hard. Give me Rutgers, laying -3 points tonight at home; I’ll call it a 71-60 final score from the RAC!

The Bet: Rutgers Scarlet Knights -3

My Pick
Rutgers Scarlet Knights -3
Jason Gray / Author

Jason is a true Las Vegas insider as he has called the sports betting capital of the world his home for sixteen years. Jason started out his career in gaming by running the biggest poker tournaments in the world and managing some of the biggest sportsbooks on the strip. Jason has transitioned out of casino operations and has been covering sports betting for the sports geek for just over two years. His main focus is on baseball, college basketball, and the NFL