Look at me. Let’s me real with each other. We know why this game is my highlight pick. If you were under a rock then you missed a mid-sized melee instigated by dumb, reinforced by macho and finished by fists. Juwan Howard is done for the remainder of the regular season and the Wolverines will be without two players tonight, one important one and are still a 5-point favorite against Rutgers.
Moussa Diabate is the key piece missing for Michigan tonight. His nine points and nearly six rebounds per game aren’t going to be nearly as missed as his 25 minutes of length will be.
Rutgers is a wild scene when playing at home. The Scarlet Knights are 41-8 at home over the past three seasons and it quite frankly defies some logic. However on the road, they’ve proven to be mere mortal like much of college basketball. They are 3-8 on the road and 3-7-1 ATS. Rutgers is also a team that, despite that dismal road record, is capable of good wins on the road like beating Wisconsin in Madison 11 days ago.
Michigan is rough at home ATS. The Wolverines are just 4-7 ATS despite being a very clean 8-3 straight up at home. Michigan is retuning home for the first game in nearly two weeks. When they were most recently at home they lost to Ohio State but two days before, they housed Purdue.
Simply put, I think this is Rutgers game to actually win. This Rutgers defense has been hardcore allowing just 65.3 points per game and that’s no small feat inside a conference that’s loaded with scorers and teams that do the same. No one really wants to talk about it, but Rutgers is in a great spot to try and grab the fourth seed in the Big Ten tournament and a double-bye to that Friday. They were 10-10 in conference play last season and were a 7th seed. It’s a fun story.
I do worry a little obviously about Rutgers efforts on the road but let’s pay attention to the team right now: they have won two of their last three games on the road ATS and one of those was won outright and another was a push.
I worry more about trying to figure out if this game is going to be an emotional black hole for Michigan despite being at home. Losing one of your best players and your coach they way you did cannot be easy to recover from and the home crowd can bring you along so far, but will they be that “up” for Rutgers? I respect Rutgers, but do they? Everyone better, because I am taking Rutgers +5 this evening and will add a little on the moneyline too at +170 for good measure.