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Free NCAA Pick Saturday

#685 Rutgers +7 over Penn State 3:30 PM CT

With wins over Ohio State and Nebraska, Rutgers has made some noise in the Big Ten and at 9-9 overall this season the Knights are a threat to finish strong with a few more upsets along the way. Rutgers has lost five road games in a row but did win at Miami earlier in the season and should play better off a big win than they did in the 18-point loss at Minnesota that followed the win over the Buckeyes.

Penn State is a better team than the 0-8 Big Ten record represents with numerous close losses. A breakout performance could be expected by laying a big number with the Lions carries great risk. Penn State has struggled offensively all season and rates as the least efficient offensive team in the Big Ten. In conference play Penn State has shot 27 percent from 3-point range, 47 percent from 2-point range, and 60 percent from the line.  

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Free NCAA Pick Wednesday

#796 Rutgers +5.5 over Ohio State 6:00 PM CT

In starting 0-3 Rutgers has faced a brutally tough Big Ten schedule losing to Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Maryland. Those games were all mostly competitive with the 14-point loss Saturday to the Terrapins the largest margin of defeat for the 7-6 Scarlet Knights since mid-November. Rutgers has a win at Miami and has quality defensive numbers through a difficult overall schedule. Ohio State is 12-2 but they have lost by 10 and 9 in the two toughest games they have faced all season and both of those games were in Columbus. Road wins in Cincinnati and Creighton are impressive results but those games came in the first two weeks of the season and Ohio State has not played a true road game in nearly two months. Eight of the 12 wins on the season have come outside the nation’s top 100 and this will be the first Big Ten true road game of the season for the Buckeyes. Rebounding looks like an area where Rutgers will have an edge and following up the hyped Michigan State game could be a challenge for Ohio State now as a substantial road favorite.

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Free NCAA Pick Saturday

#343/344 ‘OVER 60.5’ Rutgers at Ohio State 2:30 PM CT

Ryan Day won his debut coaching the Buckeyes with Ohio State mostly untested in a 77-31 win over Oregon State. Dwayne Haskins was productive in the passing game while Ohio State rushed for 375 yards and poured it on to earn an improbable cover with a 21-0 fourth quarter. Ohio State won 56-0 at Rutgers last season but the Knights were winners last week beating Texas State 35-7.

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The Knights had four turnovers but freshman Artur Sitkowski was productive in his debut despite the miscues against a better than assumed Texas State defense. Rutgers allowed only one third down conversion in that game however and Ohio State converted 12 of 15 3rd down plays last week against a similarly rated Oregon State squad. Last week’s opener was critically important for the embattled program after a challenging summer while next week’s game with TCU will be on a huge national stage as the intensity particularly on defense could be lacking for the Buckeyes.

Being the Big Ten opener means more for Rutgers who has covered in three of its four Big Ten openers since joining the conference while the Knights went 4-1 ATS in Big Ten road games last season. Rutgers has been outscored 114-0 the past two years in this matchup however as even with an inflated spread the Knights would be tough to support with a freshman quarterback in Columbus.

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There should be valid concerns about the Ohio State defense. Oregon State had to play with a backup quarterback with its starter hurt just a handful of plays into the game and yet the Beavers had 31 points and 365 yards in the first three quarters. Unlike the Buckeyes Oregon State shut it down in the fourth quarter of a decided game when they likely could have added more production and points with a more aggressive approach. Ohio State allowed 5.0 yards per rush to a team in a major transition that was among the nation’s worst teams last season as the Knights will have an opportunity to move the ball and break the scoreless streak in this series and Ohio State is certainly a threat to eclipse this total on its own as well.

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Free NCAA Pick Friday

#853 Rutgers +15 over Purdue 8:00 PM CT

A bye in the conference tournaments isn’t always an ideal situation, especially for highly ranked teams headed for upper tiers seeds in the NCAA Tournament regardless of the conference tournament results. Facing teams coming off Thursday wins Michigan State and Nebraska both looked flat in Big Ten tournament action and the advantage of rest might be negated by a lack of familiarity with the venue with this year’s tournament in Madison Square Garden for the first time.

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Rutgers won just three Big Ten games on the season but has two Big Ten wins the last two days and this is a tournament the team has been waiting for playing close to home in front of the New York crowd. Rutgers should have good support tonight as a heavy underdog and this is a team that gave Purdue fits in a 78-76 escape for the Boilermakers a month ago.

Purdue has little at stake this week, they can’t become a #1 seed even by winning this tournament as they are very much set in their March position. The Boilermakers have just one double-digit win in the last 10 Big Ten games as they struggled down the stretch compared with a dominant run in late January. Rutgers has been very good at creating turnovers and rebounding and this double-digit spread will likely be magnified with a slow pace of play that could be even more deliberate with Rutgers playing a third game in as many nights.

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Free NCAA Pick Saturday

#576 Rutgers +16 over Purdue 3:00 PM CT

Purdue is riding 18 consecutive wins with a perfect mark in Big Ten play but they have had close calls with single-digit wins in the past three games. This is a dangerous game facing what is perceived as the worst team in the Big Ten on the road heading to Rutgers Saturday while next on the schedule are conference title deciding contests with Ohio State and Michigan State next week.

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Purdue won by 31 in early January hosting Rutgers but the Knights have competed well in most home games. Both Big Ten wins came at home as did a nice non-conference upset over Seton Hall. Michigan State won by just 10 in Piscataway while Nebraska won by just six and in non-conference play Florida State won by only five.

Rutgers ranks 17th nationally in defensive efficiency as the underdog points will be appealing with Rutgers able to slow the pace of this game down. The Knights have outstanding turnover numbers on both sides of the ball and have defended the 3-point shot with great success allowing only 32 percent from beyond the arc this season.

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Rutgers has played the second toughest Big Ten schedule at this point in the season while Purdue’s schedule ranks as the second easiest slate. Purdue remains the Big Ten favorite and a national threat but this massive home underdog spread is alluring with the Boilermakers not playing their best games of late and featuring the biggest games of the season up next.

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Free NCAA Pick Friday

#144 Rutgers +27.5 over Washington  7:00 PM CT

The Huskies lived up to its preseason hype last season with a 12-1 regular season featuring a Pac-12 championship and an entry into the College Football Playoff. Washington was derailed by Alabama in that game but this is a team that should again be a conference and national contender. The non-conference schedule is very weak and this opening matchup is a rematch from last season’s opener with Washington winning 48-13 at home.

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Washington led 24-0 after the first quarter but the Knights were only out-gained by 76 yards, getting more first downs but featuring three turnovers and allowing two special teams touchdowns. Rutgers hit rock bottom last season going 2-10 with a very noncompetitive Big Ten campaign as improvement seems inevitable in the second season for Chris Ash. This isn’t an easy spot to start the season but the price is inflated several points higher than last year’s game in Seattle.

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A transfer quarterback and another season in the coaching transition should help Rutgers improve dramatically on last season’s results and while Washington remains a threat to return to the College Football Playoff they may not be worthy of this type of valuation to start the season, especially playing clear across the country.

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