Michigan vs Rutgers Odds, Picks and Predictions: McDaniel Makes a Difference

Dug McDaniel is back in the rotation for road games for Michigan, and that's a needed shot in the arm for this offense. With Rutgers' scorers having an abysmal year even at home, our college basketball picks see the Wolverines playing with pep.

Feb 29, 2024 • 15:45 ET • 4 min read
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February was already a long month for the Michigan Wolverines and Rutgers Scarlett Knights. What’s one more day, right?

These Big Ten foes battle on Leap Day, each lugging a losing skid into Thursday’s contest. 

Michigan has come up empty in five straight games but did just get standout guard Dug McDaniel back in full capacity after he was suspended for road games due to academic issues. McDaniel is coming off a 19-point effort in the 84-76 home loss to Purdue on Sunday – just the Wolverines’ second ATS win in the past 11 outings.

Rutgers, which the college basketball odds have installed as home chalk tonight, are on a three-game slide with an average margin of more than -23 points during that skid. Before this stumble, the Scarlet Knights had won four straight to start the month, including a 69-59 victory in Ann Arbor on Feb. 3.

I dissect the spread and Over/Under total for this Big Ten tilt and give my best college basketball picks and predictions for Michigan vs. Rutgers on Thursday, February 29.

Michigan vs Rutgers best odds

Michigan vs Rutgers picks and predictions

The Michigan Wolverines’ current five-game skid featured three road stops, which meant standout guard Dug McDaniel wasn’t going to play in those contests.

The sophomore was suspended for UM’s away games due to academic issues but that ban was just lifted, allowing him to suit up against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights tonight. McDaniel leads the Wolverines with 16.7 points per game and Michigan desperately missed his playmaking, going 0-6 SU and ATS without him in those road games. The team averaged only 62.5 points in those six outings.

McDaniel's return is a lone bright spot during a dreadful February for UM, which also lost star forward Olivier Nkamhoua to a wrist injury that plagued him the past two months. Nkamhoua was just behind McDaniel in production, putting up almost 15 points and seven rebounds an outing.

The Wolverines need all the offense they can get. Rutgers ranks No. 4 in defensive efficiency and allows only 60.5 points per home game. The Scarlet Knights are 11-4 SU but just 8-7 ATS inside Jersey Mike's Arena due to a lack of scoring punch.

While Rutgers is an elite defensive team, its offense sits bottom of the Big Ten. Even home court can’t cook up chemistry on that end of the floor, with the Knights averaging just over 67 points while owning an effective field goal rate of 43.8% in their own gym.

Tonight’s spread is just the sixth time Rutgers has been a favorite in Big Ten play this season, going 3-3 SU and 2-4 ATS in those conference contests. The Scarlet Knights are laying a consensus line of -7.5 points against Michigan, which ties the highest line for them on the year. Rutgers was a 7.5-point fave hosting Penn State on Jan. 31 and laid an absolute egg, losing 61-46 to the Nittany Lions.

Michigan is a deserving underdog on the road at Rutgers but not by this much – especially with McDaniel giving this Wolverines offense a shot in the arm. Game models call for a win from the Scarlet Knights, but those margins range from three to five points, which leans to the road underdog.

Most sportsbooks are dealing this Big Ten spread between Rutgers -6.5 and -7.5 but PROLINE+ has a unique line of Michigan +9.5 (-132) as of Thursday afternoon (this Canadian operator manages line movement differently than others).

Comparing that pricing, Michigan +9.5 (-132) is a better line against both offerings at +6.5 (-102) and +7.5 (-100) – if you’re comfortable laying a little extra lumber with this outlier spread (+7.5 -100 is equal to +9.5 -141 and +6.5 -102 is equal to +9.5 -170).  

With game projections calling for a Rutgers victory of five points or less, there’s still value in playing UM +7.5 if you don’t have PROLINE+ available in your region.

My best bet: Michigan +9.5 (-132 at PROLINE+)

Michigan vs Rutgers same-game parlay

Michigan +9.5

Under 138.5

Sure, Michigan is bad, but Rutgers should not be this big a favorite, especially with the Wolverines having McDaniel available in New Jersey tonight.

Most game forecasts call for a low-scoring finish, with the total points projected at 135. That’s plenty of head room for the Under.

Learn how to bet a same-game parlay with these helpful tips and strategies.

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Michigan vs Rutgers spread and Over/Under analysis

Rutgers opened as low as a 6.5-point home chalk for this game and has climbed to as high as -7.5 at some sportsbooks. Covers Consensus shows 66% of picks backing the home side as the favorite.

Rutgers is all about defense, ranking among the elite in the land. The Scarlet Knights are No. 4 in Kenpom’s defensive efficiency rating and allow just over 60 points against per game inside Jersey Mike’s Arena. 

That stingy play hasn’t led Rutgers bettors to riches by any means, with the Knights going 12-15 ATS on the season and 8-7 ATS at home. They’ve failed to cover in four straight outings and are only 2-4 ATS when laying the points this year.

Michigan sits at the bottom of the Big Ten and also the NCAA ATS standings. The Wolverines have burned backers with an 8-20 mark against the spread and are 2-9 ATS in the last 11 games heading into Thursday. Michigan is also 2-7 ATS on the road but did not have Dug McDaniel in action for six of those true road games. 

McDaniel will play his first road game since December 10 tonight, as his road suspension for academic issues was lifted earlier this week. McDaniel is the team’s leading scorer (16.7 ppg) and gives UM a needed boost for the home stretch, especially since forward Olivier Nkamhoua was forced out with a lingering wrist injury.

Tonight’s total opened as high as 139 points and has been chipped down to as low as 137 as of Thursday afternoon. Covers Consensus shows 61% of early picks on the Under.

The Scarlet Knights’ blend of bad offense and elite defense has panned out in a 9-18 Over/Under record, including 4-11 O/U at home. There has been some value coming back on the Over with Rutgers in recent games, with the team topping ultra-low numbers of 129.5 and 132 O/U.

As for the Wolverines, they’re 16-12 O/U overall with a 5-4 O/U count away from Ann Arbor. In the six away games without McDaniel, UM averaged 62.5 points and finished 2-4 O/U. Michigan has been a solid Under play since the calendar flipped to 2024, staying below the closing total in 10 of its last 15 games.

Michigan vs Rutgers betting trend to know

Rutgers is 3-3 SU and 2-4 ATS as a Big Ten favorite in conference play this season. Find more college basketball betting trends for Michigan vs. Rutgers.

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Michigan vs Rutgers game info

Location: Jersey Mike's Arena, Piscataway, NJ
Date: Thursday, February 29, 2024
Tip-off: 8:30 p.m. ET

Michigan vs Rutgers key injuries

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