Free Picks: Rutgers Returns to March Madness against Clemson

Free Picks: Rutgers Returns to March Madness against Clemson
Clemson Tigers vs Rutgers Scarlet Knights, NCAAB, Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Rutgers basketball has waited 30 long years to get back to the NCAA Tournament, but finally they have returned. After going through a grueling Big 10 Conference schedule, the Scarlet Knights are battle-tested and ready to go to war against a slumping Clemson Tigers squad. Don’t let the seeding mislead you, this Rutgers team is a second weekend team.

Throwing It Back

Rutgers’ last tournament appearance was in 1991, and this year’s squad looks like a replica of a 90s basketball team. They are physical and live in the paint, while having a few scorers off the bench who can get hot in a hurry. Myles Johnson is the rim protector and anchors the defense, but Ron Harper Jr. and Jacob Young can fill up the basket quickly.

Robbed of a tournament bid by Covid-19 last year, the Scarlet Knights are as hungry as ever and are in a great position to slay the Clemson Tigers. The Tigers are stumbling into the tournament after losing to lowly Miami in the ACC Tournament and could be sent packing early. Away from their homecourt, Clemson went 4-7-0 ATS and 5-6-0 SU. Additionally, three of those covers/wins came on neutral courts at the beginning of the season. Streaky at best lately, the Tigers are going to struggle to score against Rutgers.

The aforementioned Myles Johnson will dry up the paint. Johnson is 1 of 4 players in the NCAA Tournament with a defensive rating of 83 or lower, with him on the floor Rutgers’ interior defense is stout. Clemson has the 337th free throw rate in D-1, which will help Johnson stay out of foul trouble, meaning Clemson will need to rain in threes. Rutgers has defended the three well lately at 28.9% and I would expect that to persist. One of my BetPicks NCAAB picks is U62.5 for Clemson points (1.86 at 10Bet).

Clemson’s aforementioned inability to reach the free throw line, shall be their downfall as Rutgers is 13-2 SU when allowing 19 free throws or less, Clemson has eclipsed 19 free throws just twice this season. NCAAB odds have this set as a nearly even line, but I could see Rutgers running away with this one. This is a bad match-up for Clemson and the Scarlet Knights will make life miserable for the Tigers, ride with my free pick of Rutgers -1.5 and enjoy watching Rutgers basketball return to March Madness!


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  • Rutgers is 5-3-0 ATS in their last 8 games
  • Rutgers is 9-8-1 ATS when they score 65 or more points
  • Clemson is 4-4-0 ATS in their last 8 games
  • Clemson is 2-7-0 ATS when their opponents score 65 or more points

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Josh Saslove here, I am a passionate sports fan and have been consumed by sports for as long as I can remember. I have been a sports bettor for the past 4 years, starting out with betting on college basketball parlays. I currently write pieces for BetPicks, but have my own blog space. I am an avid fan of the Ottawa Senators, Toronto Raptors, Kansas City Chiefs and Toronto Blue Jays, so I know what it's like to cheer for the underdog. The 2017 ECF run by the Ottawa Senators and the Raptors 2019 NBA title are probably my fondest memories as a fan, as well of course the Chiefs Super Bowl win in 2020. I am also a big music fan and have been called Mac Miller by strangers on several occasions.