Last night, Michigan scored a major win for their NCAA Tournament hopes as they throttled rival Michigan State in Ann Arbor. Tonight, the bubble picture for Big Ten teams focuses squarely on Bloomington, Indiana as Rutgers and Indiana face off with much at stake.
Depending on where you look, both the Scarlet Knights and Hoosiers are in, or neither of them is in. As of yesterday’s ESPN bracketology update, Indiana and Rutgers were the last two teams in the field. However, at CBS Sports, whose projections were updated this morning, neither team is in, with the Hoosiers one of the first four teams out and the Scarlet Knights outside of that group.
It is entirely possible that both teams could end up in the field, but it is more likely that the loser of tonight’s game will end up falling short without picking up some wins in next week’s Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis.
Which desperate team will come up with a big win tonight at Assembly Hall?
Rutgers vs. Indiana College Basketball Matchup Info and Betting Odds
- Game Matchup: Rutgers Scarlet Knights (16-12, 10-8 Big Ten, 6th in the Big Ten) vs. Indiana Hoosiers (18-10, 9-9 Big Ten, 9th in the Big Ten)
- Venue & Location: Assembly Hall (Bloomington, Indiana)
- Date: Wednesday, March 2, 2022
- Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
- TV: BTN (Big Ten Network)
- Spread: Rutgers +4.5 (-110), Indiana -4.5 (-110)
- Total: OVER 131.5 (-110), UNDER 131.5 (-110)
- Moneyline: Rutgers +165, Indiana -200
Odds are via BetMGM. (Disclaimer: Betting on Rutgers vs. Indiana at BetMGM is available for bettors in Indiana, but it is not available to bettors in New Jersey.)
Rutgers, Indiana Battle for Better Bubble Position
It has been a wild year in the Big Ten, with last night the latest example. Along with Michigan pummeling Michigan State, Nebraska (yes, Nebraska) stunned Ohio State in Columbus, and Wisconsin and Purdue played out a thriller in Madison that ended with the Badgers in the driver’s seat for the regular season title.
Rutgers and Indiana have both been involved in the chaos this season. The Scarlet Knights own five conference wins over ranked teams, including a run of four in a row in February, while the Hoosiers own home wins over Purdue and Ohio State.
However, things look a little shaky for both teams with Selection Sunday a week and a half away. Why? Let’s take a look at each team’s resume.
2022 NCAA Tournament Resume for Rutgers
- NET: 81
- Quadrant Records: Quad 1 – 5-5, Quad 2 – 3-4, Quad 3 – 3-2, Quad 4 – 5-1
- Quality Wins: vs. Purdue, vs. Iowa, vs. Michigan State, vs. Ohio State, at Wisconsin, vs. Illinois
- Bad Losses: vs. Lafayette, at UMass, vs. Maryland
For Rutgers, the picture is pretty clear. They have a bevy of quality wins and are over .500 in arguably the toughest conference in college basketball. But they also have some pretty unforgivable losses and a ton of losses overall.
They also have a case of terrible timing. Entering tonight, the Scarlet Knights have lost three in a row. Given that the three opponents were Purdue (road), Michigan (road), and Wisconsin (home), the losses aren’t necessarily damning, but a three-game losing streak at this point of the season when you are a bubble team is not helpful.
How do things break down for Indiana?
2022 NCAA Tournament Resume for Indiana
- NET: 43
- Quad 1 Record: 3-6
- Quad 2 Record: 3-4
- Quality Wins: vs. Notre Dame (neutral site), vs. Ohio State, vs. Purdue
- Bad Losses: none
While Rutgers has truly bad losses, Indiana doesn’t have any truly bad losses. Their worst loss came at Penn State. The Nittany Lions are not a great team, but it is hard to call that one a bad loss relative to Rutgers’ losses against Lafayette and UMass, especially since they only lost by three.
The problem for the Hoosiers is too many wins that don’t move the needle–the Hoosiers are 12-0 against Quad 3 and Quad 4 opponents–and a lack of notable wins.
The opportunities have certainly been there for Indiana. They couldn’t hold late leads twice against Wisconsin and blew a 22-point lead in their visit to Madison, and they also couldn’t hold a late lead at Ohio State. Also, they led by seven at halftime at Iowa but were outscored 42-26 in the second half. Had they won even one or two of those games, their position would be significantly better.
Both Rutgers and Indiana have suffered from going cold at the wrong time. In those four games and a loss at Northwestern, Indiana had a late scoring drought in each game.
Indiana’s Second-Half Scoring Woes
- Wisconsin (road): led 59-53 with 3:08 left, outscored 11-0 down the stretch in a 64-59 loss
- Iowa (road): led 54-49 with 16:14 left, scored only three points over the next 7:20 as Iowa took a lead they would not relinquish
- Northwestern (road): led 35-28 with 17:49 left, went scoreless for next five minutes, 51 seconds as Northwestern took a lead they would not relinquish, and scored only two points over the final three minutes, 38 seconds after pulling within four
- Wisconsin (home): led 69-66 with 1:53 left, didn’t score again in a 74-69 loss
- Ohio State (road): led 63-59 with 2:47 left in regulation and didn’t score again in regulation, then outscored 17-6 in overtime in an 80-69 loss
Rutgers, meanwhile, let a massive opportunity slip against visiting Wisconsin on Saturday. The Scarlet Knights led 55-54 with 5:57 left, then scored only one point over the next five minutes in an eventual 66-61 loss.
Fortunately, both teams still do have a chance to make the NCAA Tournament, but tonight’s game is a must-win on both sides.
For Rutgers, this game represents their final chance to pick up a quality win before next week, as their regular season finale is at home against Penn State. For Indiana, they have another resume-building opportunity to close out the regular season, but it is at Purdue.
Rutgers vs. Indiana Basketball Prediction and Picks
Indiana 73, Rutgers 64 (Indiana -4.5 & OVER 131.5)
While Rutgers comes in on a three-game losing skid, Indiana enters tonight’s must-win matchup with back-to-back wins over Maryland (at home) and Minnesota (on the road).
Neither of those wins is much to fawn over in terms of the opposition, but they have given Indiana reason to feel confident heading into tonight’s game.
Sunday’s 84-79 win at Minnesota was the first time in Big Ten play this season that Indiana hit the 80-point mark, and they did it without Trayce Jackson-Davis having a big game.
In fact, their leading scorer on the season hasn’t been their leading scorer in any of their past three games. Instead, it’s been Xavier Johnson, who has put up 16, 24, and 24 in the past three games to pace the Hoosiers. Additionally, Race Thompson chipped in with 19 in Thursday’s 74-64 win over Maryland.
Not getting consistent scoring from sources other than TJD cost Indiana earlier this season, so Johnson’s hot streak is certainly timely, especially if Jackson-Davis can start scoring around his season average (17.4 PPG) again.
While Rutgers has put in some Herculean efforts against the Big Ten’s better teams, they have looked pretty ordinary in a number of games against equal or inferior opposition, most notably on the road where they have losses against Penn State, Minnesota, Northwestern, and Michigan (and a two-point win over Nebraska, who was in the midst of a 12-game winless run in conference play).
Add all of that up, and you have an important win for Indiana tonight.