Rutgers guard Jacob Young (42) puts up a shot over the Indiana defense during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in Bloomington, Ind. Rutgers won 74-70. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)
- The Rutgers Scarlet Knights (12-9, 8-9 Big Ten) host the Indiana Hoosiers (12-10, 7-8 Big Ten) Wednesday, Feb. 24
- Both teams are reeling a bit, with Rutgers dropping three of four and Indiana losing two of three
- Read below for odds, analysis, and our best bet for this matchup
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights (12-9, 8-9 Big Ten), who have been ranked as high as No. 11 in the AP poll this season, host the Indiana Hoosiers (12-10, 7-8 Big Ten) Wednesday, Feb. 24, in Piscataway. Tip is set for 8:00 pm ET at Rutgers Athletic Center.
The Hoosiers come into Senior Night at the RAC with their fan base clamoring for the end to the Archie Miller Era. The latest frustration comes after Indiana’s fourth home loss this season as a big favorite. Michigan State – with its worst team in decades – beat IU 78-71 on Saturday. Meantime, Rutgers enters the affair as losers in three of its last four – but is still one of the most efficient teams in the country on the defensive end, limiting opponents to just 90.8 points per 100 possessions.
Steve Pikiell’s team is a 3.5-point favorite in its last home game of the season over Miller’s club.
Indiana vs Rutgers Odds
|Indiana||+3.5 (-110)||TBD||O 133.0 (-110)|
|Rutgers||-3.5 (-110)||TBD||U 133.0 (-110)|
Odds taken Feb. 23 at Bet365.
For all the rancor surrounding the current state of Hoosier basketball, there’s one undeniable fact: Trayce Jackson-Davis is an elite player in the post and has been one of the Big Ten’s best in an utterly loaded league this season. He scored a game-high 34 points and added nine rebounds in the seven-point loss to the Spartans.
Six-foot-11 junior Myles Johnson will be tasked by Pikiell with slowing down the future NBA player, who’s averaging 20.2 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. The LA product earned praise from Big Ten Network analyst Stephen Bardo.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) February 22, 2021
Johnson has already done it once this season, holding TJD to only 13 points on 4-of-10 shooting and 7 rebounds in a 74-70 Rutgers win on Jan. 24. Johnson also handled Naismith and Wooden Award favorite Luka Garza to 22 points (nearly three below Garza’s average) on only 8-for-20 shooting. Johnson also recently held highly-touted Michigan freshman Hunter Dickinson to 10 points on 4-for-10 shooting, five points below his average.
Unless Indiana comes up with alternative scoring options to Jackson-Davis — which has been an inconsistent exercise at best for IU this season — it appears Rutgers will be in good shape against Indiana’s No. 1 option with Johnson in its back pocket.
Even with Johnson going for the Scarlet Knights, they still likely need another key player on the court for victory. That would be senior guard Jacob Young. The Houston product averages 14.4 points per game and put up a game-high 19 against Maryland in a 68-59 loss to Maryland Sunday. He left the game in the final minute with a left leg injury. His status is uncertain Wednesday, but Rutgers fans know his importance.
And to compound matters Jacob Young hurts his leg with 40 seconds left. He’s the one guy who brings energy night in and night out for Rutgers.
— Florida Tozz (@Tozzcast) February 21, 2021
Ron Harper Jr. is Rutgers’ leading scorer at 15.5 points per outing. He’s coming off a putrid performance against the Terps, scoring only six points on a 1-for-6 effort from the field. The junior scored 15 and grabbed 12 rebounds in the Scarlet Knights’ victory over the Hoosiers last month. I expect Harper to bounce back Wednesday, with or without Young.
What’s Wrong in Bloomington?
Indiana, somewhat inscrutably, swept Iowa this season. But including those two wins over the Hawkeyes, the Hoosiers are 2-6 against ranked teams during the 2020-21 campaign — meaning they’ve lost to every other good team they’ve played. Throw in a home defeat to Northwestern and Miller’s hot-seat is warming in Bloomington.
No answers for Indiana. No development. No progress. Four years in under Archie Miller and the program is still barely treading water and regularly sinking. That’s flat-out unacceptable. #iubb
— Ryan Phillips (@RumorsandRants) February 20, 2021
So, why isn’t IU better? The team sorely lacks perimeter players that can consistently knock down threes. Another issue is player development — or lack thereof. Against Sparty, the freshman didn’t score any points at all. Jordan Geronimo didn’t play, the state’s reigning Mr. Basketball Anthony Leal had a turnover and was yanked after two minutes and top-100 recruit Kristian Lander shot an airball that missed by two feet — then had a bad pass turnover and was pulled.
As noted above, if Jackson-Davis doesn’t get help — and it seems like he certainly won’t from his underclassmen Hoosier teammates — Rutgers should win going away on Senior Night. KenPom predicts a 68-65 Scarlet Knights victory and I agree.
The pick: Rutgers -3.5 (-110)
Blair Johnson is a veteran journalist and seasoned sports content creator. He has been writing and producing content as long as he can remember, with such familiar names as CNN, NFL Media and Yahoo. Blair currently lives and works in the greater Los Angeles area.