Penn State vs. Rutgers prediction and odds for Tuesday, January 24

Penn State Nittany Lions guard Jalen Pickett. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Penn State Nittany Lions guard Jalen Pickett. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports /

Even after a loss to Michigan State last Thursday, Rutgers is sitting near the top of the Big 10. At 13-6 and 5-3 in conference play, the team is second behind Purdue. Yet, the Scarlet Knights aren’t ranked in the top 25. Penn State would like to keep it that way and maybe climb up the conference standings tonight.

The Nittany Lions are 13-6 (4-4), but haven’t been able to string together conference wins. In fact, they haven’t won two games in a row since the calendar turned over to 2023. Is tonight their night after beating Nebraska on Saturday?

Let’s take a look at the odds for this Big 10 matchup in New Jersey.

Penn State vs. Rutgers odds, spread and total

Penn State vs. Rutgers prediction and pick

This is a matchup of two very different styles, a matchup of offense vs. defense. Penn State is the offense in that equation, the Nittany Lions are 22nd in offensive efficiency, score 74.6 points a game, and shoot nearly 40% from three. Early in the year Penn State was playing at a fast pace with their shooters surrounding Jalen Pickett, but they’ve slowed down a lot in Big 10 play.

Their head coach, Micah Shrewsberry relies heavily on Pickett making decisions in the half court, not entirely unlike a college version Luka Doncic and the Mavericks offense.

Though I’m certainly not comparing the two players, the style is similar, put shooters around a ball-dominant playmaker and let him use the entire shot clock to get the best look for him or for others. With Andrew Funk, Seth Lundy, and Myles Dread all shooting 42% from 3, it’s not a bad system.

Rutgers will be happy to play at that slow pace, but they rely on their defense to win games. The Scarlet Knights are 3rd in defensive efficiency and allow just 57.6 points a game.

They’ll get stops, but they don’t have the offensive firepower to cover a 6.5 point spread. Cam Spencer and Caleb McConnell can’t match Pickett and all of Penn State’s shooters bucket for bucket and consistently get good shots. I like the under, but I love Penn State to cover.

Follow all Josh Yourish’s bets HERE

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change