Big Ten Rivalry Game: Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Penn State Nittany Lions Preview, Predictions, & Pick

Game: Rutgers vs. Penn State

Date & Time: Saturday,  February 26th, 2020, 7:00 (EST)

Location: Bryce Jordan Center

The Line: Penn State -6, O/U 137.5

TV Channel: BTN

CBB Season Record: 161-109 – 59.6%

Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Penn State Nittany Lions Preview

Rutgers (18-10) has dropped two straight games to Michigan and Wisconsin. The Scarlet Knights are currently in the NCAA Tournament but with three tough games left in the regular season, Rutgers could be in trouble.

The Scarlet Knights are struggling to find any success on the road, losing another road contest to Wisconsin, 79-71. Rutgers losses aren’t “bad” losses but they’re never good losses. Rutgers allowed Wisconsin to 39 and 40 points in each half and didn’t show off their defensive strengths in this one. Rutgers has allowed 62.2 points per game this season but in three of their last five contests, they’ve allowed teams to score over that average.

Ron Harper led the way in the loss to Wisconsin with 21 points and nine rebounds while Geo Baker added 16 points, six assists, and five rebounds. Rutgers is not getting much production out of their bench as of late and it’s doomed their offense.

Ron Harper is the team’s leading scorer with 12.2 points per game. Myles Johnson leads in rebounds with 7.9 while Geo Baker averages 3.6 assists per game.

Rutgers sits at 9-8 in conference play but with a loss to Penn State, Rutgers can dip towards the bottom of Big Ten play. These next three games are critical. Currently, Rutgers is 1-7 on the road this season, with the lone win coming earlier in conference play against a 2-13 Nebraska team.

Penn State (20-7), on the other hand, have lost two straight after ranking in the Top 10 for the first time in a long time. The Nittany Lions dropped a road game to Indiana after starting the game in disarray. Penn State trailed Indiana 37-24 at half time and couldn’t claw themselves completely back into the game, although Penn State did take the lead at times in the second half.

Lamar Stevens scored 29 points on 11 of 27 from the field. If Stevens is going to take 27 shots per game, Penn State will not be able to win games. Lamar had just one assist and one turnover in 30 minutes of game action. John Harrar added a team-high ten rebounds with five of them coming on the offensive side of the glass.

Lamar Stevens averages 18 points per game on 44.8 percent from the field while Mike Watkins leads with 7.8 rebounds per game. Jamari Wheeler is the Nittany Lions engine and averages 3.1 assists per game.

Penn State is averaging 76.1 points per game but has watched their offense has struggled recently, scoring an average of 58 points in their last two games. The Nittany Lions allow 67.2 points against and shoot 44.3 percent from the field. Penn State rebounds 38.7 times per game this season.

Rutgers won the first meeting between these two teams, 72-61. Ron Harper Jr. scored 22 points in the win at the Rutgers Athletic Center. This was in early January. A lot has changed since the win. Rutgers is 1-7 on the road while Penn State is 13-2 at home and second in the Big Ten with a 10-6 record.

Myreon Jones hasn’t played for the Nittany Lions since February 4 with an undisclosed illness. He’s questionable for this game. Jones is the second leading scorer for Penn State and scored 21 points against Rutgers in the first meeting.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs Penn State Nittany Lions Key Stats

  • Nittany Lions are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games.
  • Nittany Lions are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games overall.
  • Scarlet Knights are 0-3-1 ATS in their last 4 games as a road underdog of 0.5-6.5.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs Penn State Nittany Lions Betting Lines

  • Penn State is favored to win against the spread at -6 (-110)
  • The Over/Under is set at 137.5

Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs Penn State Nittany Lions Prediction

Rutgers has had a hard time winning on the road this season and it will only get harder from here on out. Rutgers will take on rival Penn State on the road in what seems like a must-win for both teams. Only one team can win. The other team will be on a three-game losing streak.

Penn State’s offense hasn’t been the same in their last two games. Lamar Stevens is shooting 37 percent from the field after taking 38 shots in Penn State’s last two games where they lost in both games. If Rutgers can bring their same defensive intensity to Penn State, they can stop Stevens. Stevens scored just 12 points and six rebounds in the loss in January. Rutgers has the bigs to contain Penn State inside. They’ll need to shut down the perimeter shooting of Penn State. Myreon Jones on the sideline would help their case.

Rutgers is shooting just 30.1 percent from long range this season and 65.2 percent from the foul line. There’s no consistency in their scoring and no player averages close to 30 minutes a game. This game should be tight but Penn State will end up covering late at home against a Rutgers team that struggles to win anything on the road. 

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