The Scarlet Knights are bearing down on their first NCAA tournament berth in 29 years as they head into the February 12th Rutgers at Ohio State free pick. If Steve Pikiell’s team wants to make that dream a reality, they’ll need to start finding a way to win on the road. Rutgers is a dreadful 1-7 away from the RAC.
On paper it looks like Ohio State has a huge edge at home, where they are 10-2 on the season. Those two losses in Columbus have come in the last four games at the Value City Arena however. Nonetheless, OSU is a -5.5 favorite here, having won last year’s home meeting by 16 points.
Rutgers in a Rut a Bit?
The Scarlet Knights have one measly road win on the season, a 79-62 victory at lowly Nebraska back on January 3rd as 4.5 favorites. The Scarlet Knights haven’t been completely bowled over in away trips though. Since January 3rd in Lincoln Rutgers has lost by 3 at Illinois, 5 at Iowa, 6 at Michigan (at Madison Square Garden), and 5 at Maryland.
Those are some pretty close road losses against for the most part the upper half of the conference – but still losses. Rutgers also had to go to OT on Sunday for a 77-73 win over Northwestern as -10.5 home favorites.
Even though it was OT, the 77 points from the Scarlet Knights on Sunday were a bright spot heading into the February 12th Rutgers at Ohio State free pick. Geo Baker had 25 points off the bench in that game. Rutgers has the defense down, ranking 15th in the country in points/game allowed and 14th in opponents field goal percentage. They can be dangerous if the offense follows suit.
Ohio State Coming Off Another Setback
It’s been an up and down season for the Buckeyes to say the least. That includes an 11-1 start to the season followed by losses in 6 of 7. It looked like Chris Holtmann’s team was turning the corner with a 3-game win streak only to take a 13 point defeat in Madison as a +1 underdog.
Getting back home should help the Buckeyes on Wednesday. They’ve played just 4 home contests since the 2020 calendar year turned over though – and they’ve lost two of them. That includes a 57-61 defeat to the Badgers as -7.5 favorites and 59-62 as Minnesota completed the season sweep.
It’s hard to see the Ohio State offense putting up too many points against a rough and tumble Rutgers defensive unit on Wednesday. The total for this one is just 128.5 and Ohio State has scored 61 points or less in 3 of the last 5. The OSU defense will still give them a chance though as the Buckeyes are also a top 20 unit in points allowed and opponents field goal percentage.
February 12th Rutgers at Ohio State Free Pick
These two teams are very evenly matched and even though Rutgers has struggled on the road, they’ve still stayed close in those away tilts. Ohio State is too inconsistent to even be counted on to win this game, let alone cover the -5.5.
Pick: Rutgers +5.5