Another Big Ten team has made it into the Top 25 as Rutgers is ranked 25th heading into the January 22nd NCAAB free pick. The stay could be short lived though with a visit to Iowa looming on the horizon Wednesday night. The Hawkeyes have gone 8-1 in Iowa City on the season and have won 3 in a row prior to this tilt. The Hawks are -5.5 favorites with an O/U of 138.
Rutgers Defense Has a Test
The January 22nd NCAAB free pick is a true test of offense vs. defense. Iowa leads the Big Ten in scoring at 79.9 ppg while Rutgers has held 9 straight opponents to 65 points or less. The away team did win both games in the series last season as well.
The Scarlet Knights are just a hard fought 51-54 loss in Champaign from being on a 9-game win streak. Give credit where credit is due because Rutgers is playing some great basketball right now – but they’ve also only played four true road games this season, losing three of them. Rutgers’ lone road win on the season was at lowly Nebraska – Iowa is not Nebraska.
So what can Rutgers do to keep this game within the 5.5 point spread? It starts with that defense that is 7th in the country in points allowed and 5th in opponents field goal percentage. The Hawkeyes will give up some points, including 83 to Michigan and 89 to Penn State over the past five games. Iowa’s defense can also be stifling though, especially at home where they held Maryland to 49 points on January 10th. Rutgers likes the slow pace as they’ve averaged just 58 ppg the last three.
Hawks Home Court Too Much for Rutgers?
You really wonder what happened to Iowa back on November 11th, losing 78-93 at home to DePaul as -9 point favorites. Either way, it looks like just a hiccup as Iowa has rattle off 7 in a row at Carver-Hawkeye since then. That includes a 20-point win over a good Minnesota team, dismantling Maryland 67-49, and hanging 90 points on Michigan last Friday.
Iowa sure looks like a good blowout win candidate on Wednesday mainly because they have a dark horse candidate for national player of the year in Luka Garza. The junior scored 33 in the most recent meeting with Michigan after putting up 44 against the Wolverines last month. Garza also had 34 in early January against Penn State but Rutgers held the Iowa big man to 7/7 and 10/2 in two meetings last season.
If the Scarlet Knights can indeed hound Garza on Wednesday it hampers Iowa’s chances to cover the -5.5 but not completely. Both Joe Wieskamp and CJ Fredrick had 20+ vs. the Wolverines and Ryan Kriener had his second straight double digit output off the bench. Wieskamp has 20+ in 4 of the last 5.
January 22nd NCAAB Free Pick
Iowa has been great at home and against some very solid teams. Rutgers is very proven at home, but not so much on the road. Garza knows he struggled vs. the Scarlet Knights in two games last season, and will have something to prove tonight. Iowa showed some great scoring depth last game and if Rutgers is solely focused on stopping the post game, it should lead to a big night for somebody in the Iowa back court, especially on the friendly home rims.
Free Pick: Iowa Hawkeyes -5.5