Indiana forward Race Thompson (25) shoots against Purdue during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in West Lafayette, Ind., Saturday, March 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
- No. 7 Rutgers takes on No. 10 Indiana as second round action in the Big Ten Tournament gets underway
- The Scarlet Knights swept the season series with Indiana, while the Hoosiers enter the tourney on an 0-5 run
- We’ve got you covered with all the odds and trends ahead of this key Big Ten Tournament clash
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights will be aiming to advance to the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament for just the second time since joining the conference in 2014 when they battle the Indiana Hoosiers as 2-point favorites in second-round action on Thursday evening (6:30pm ET at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis).
The Scarlet Knights tallied wins in two of the final three dates on their regular season schedule to close out the campaign with a 10-10 record in conference play, and as the No. 7 seed in this year’s tournament.
Conversely, the Hoosiers find themselves in freefall after being blown out in each of their final five contests, saddling them with the No. 10 seed in this year’s tourney.
Indiana Hoosiers vs Rutgers Scarlet Knights Odds
|Indiana Hoosiers||+2 (-110)||+110||O 131 (-110)|
|Rutgers Scarlet Knights||-2 (-110)||-143||U 131 (-110)|
*Odds taken at on March 10, 2021.
Scarlet Knights Struggling Away from Home
The Scarlet Knights enjoy a golden opportunity to overcome a worrisome late-season swoon in Thursday’s date with Indiana. While the club closed out their schedule on a 2-1 run, they struggled to maintain any kind of consistency down the stretch, posting just three wins in their final seven conference matchups.
Lat Mayen scored 25 points to help lead @HuskerHoops to a 72-51 win over Rutgers.
Highlights from the win: pic.twitter.com/Yk2M5VrcBQ
— Nebraska On BTN (@NebraskaOnBTN) March 2, 2021
The team has particularly struggled in recent contests away from their home at Rutgers Athletic Center, losing outright in three of their past four road contests. That run includes last week’s crushing 72-51 loss to the bottom-feeding Nebraska Cornhuskers as 8-point road chalk.
Rutgers Open with Favorable Matchup
Despite their late-season struggles, the Scarlet Knights now find themselves opening the Big ten Tournament with a favorable matchup. Rutgers dominated in a 74-63 home win over the Hoosiers as 3.5-point chalk two weeks ago. In addition to giving the Scarlet Knights the sweep in their season series with Indiana, last month’s victory marked the team’s fifth win, both SU and ATS, in six clashes with the Hoosiers.
Rutgers has now beaten Indiana in five of their past six meetings, and the latest — a 74-63 win — possibly just burst the Hoosiers’ NCAA Tournament bubble while punching the Scarlet Knights’ ticket to the Big Dance.
Steve Pikiell owns Archie Miller. pic.twitter.com/hq3197RUPc
— Garrett Stepien (@GarrettStepien) February 25, 2021
A greater challenge for Rutgers will be overcoming the team’s disappointing stretch of early exits since joining the Big Ten seven years ago. Overall, the Scarlet Knights have posted just three wins in eight all-time tournament matchups. They have also reached the quarterfinals just once during that stretch, thanks to a 76-69 upset win over Indiana in the second round of the 2018 edition of this event.
Hoosiers Search for End to Epic Slide
The Hoosiers are under enormous pressure as they ride a five-game losing streak into Big Ten Tournament action. Indiana has battled inconsistency all season long, stringing together consecutive wins on just two occasions while compiling a 7-12 record in conference play.
The team looked poised to turn the corner in early February, opening the month with a heartbreaking 75-71 overtime loss to No. 12 Illinois, and following up with wins in three of four contests, including a 67-65 victory over No. 8 Iowa.
Indiana defeats (8) Iowa 67-65, and the Hoosiers have now won 5 of their last 6 games against AP Top-10 teams.@IndianaMBB has held Iowa to under 70 points in both meetings this season. No other team has even done that once. pic.twitter.com/EEQhVuJjMA
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 7, 2021
However, it has all been downhill since, with the team falling to defeat by an average margin of over 10 points in their final five outings. Injuries have played a key role in Indiana’s swoon. Sophomore guard Armaan Franklin has been sidelined for the past three games, and unable to practice, as he deals with injuries to both his heel and Achilles tendon.
This is a storyline about #Indiana that is worth following.
Armaan Franklin’s injury has been why IU hasn’t emerged from its end-of-season funk.
He got hurt in the first half at the RAC on Feb. 24.
— Danny Breslauer (@DannyBreslauer) March 10, 2021
Franklin is joined in the clinic by junior big man Race Thompson, who had been playing through a broken nose, but has been kept off the floor since suffering an ankle injury in the last weekend’s season-ending 67-58 loss to Purdue.
Indy in Desperation Mode
The Hoosiers’ fading hopes of claiming a berth in this year’s NCAA Tournament hinge on a strong run at the Big Ten Tournament. Even then, it would come as little surprise to see Franklin and Thompson suit up. The duo currently rank second and fourth, respectively, in team scoring, and Franklin leads the Hoosiers with 1.2 steals per game.
But even with a lineup at full strength, it is tough to see this Hoosiers squad rebound against the healthy Scarlet Knights, and reverse a dismal offensive outage that has limited Indiana to 58 or fewer points in their past three outings.
The Picks: Scarlet Knights -2 (-110); OVER 131 (-110)
Daniel has been writing about sports and sports betting for over 23 years. The seasoned pro has contributed to the likes of Sports Illustrated, Sportsnet, NESN, Bleacher Report, OddsShark, the Globe and Mail, and The Nation magazine.