Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs Penn State Nittany Lions: Predictions, Odds and Roster Notes

How to Watch

Where: Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, PA

When: Wednesday, February 26th at 7pm EST

How (TV): Big Ten Network

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (Away)

Head Coach: Steve Pikiell {Overall: 18-10 | Conference: 9-8, 8th in Big Ten}

For over a decade, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights have been a bottom feeder team regardless of their conference affiliation. The tides have since changed for New Jersey’s Big Ten team, as they are one win away from earning double-digit conference wins for the first time since they were Atlantic-10 members in 1991. That season was also the last time Rutgers made it to the NCAA Tournament.

The Scarlet Knights have limited their opponents to 62.2 points per game, which ranks 19th in the country. Coach Steve Pikiell’s emphasis on team defense has kept Rutgers above water in the highly competitive Big Ten, despite fielding a relatively young team with five underclassmen and just two seniors in the rotation.

Rutgers will look to get out of a two-game slump with three games remaining in the regular season, with their most recent loss coming at Wisconsin. The Scarlet Knights fell 79-71 to the Badgers, despite shooting over 56 percent on two-point field goals. Sophomore swing man Ron Harper Jr. led the way with 21 points and nine rebounds, while junior guard Geo Baker added 16 points.

Penn State Nittany Lions (Home)

Head Coach: Patrick Chambers {Overall: 20-7 | Conference: 10-6}

Like their opponent, the Penn State Nittany Lions are enjoying a breakthrough season, appearing in the AP Poll for the first time since 1996, and on the verge of just their third March Madness berth this century. Led by 2018 NIT MVP Lamar Stevens, the Nittany Lions are in a good position to earn their highest ever NCAA tournament seed.

Penn State is in a minor slump of their own, having also lost their last two games after rattling off eight straight wins. The Nittany Lions return home after a 68-60 road loss to Indiana last Sunday when Stevens had a solid outing with 29 points. Unfortunately, Stevens did not get sufficient support from his teammates, as sophomore guard Myles Dread was the next highest scorer with a measly ten points.

Rutgers vs Penn State Basketball All-Time Series

Wednesday’s matchup will be the 69th meeting between these geographic rivals, with Penn State leading the all-time series 38-30. Since Rutgers joined the Big Ten in 2014, the series has been fairly even with Penn State holding a 5-4 lead. The Scarlet Knights won their home game against the Lions earlier this season 72-61 on January 7th behind a 22 point effort from Ron Harper Jr.

Rutgers has also won the most recent meeting at the Bryce Jordan Center, winning last year’s game 64-60 despite shooting 35 percent from the field.

Rutgers Roster Notes

There are no injuries or roster changes to report for Rutgers.

Penn State Roster Notes

Sophomore guard Myreon Jones is listed as questionable with an undisclosed illness that forced him out of action against Indiana on Sunday.

Head-to-Head: Ron Harper Jr. (RUT) vs Mike Watkins (PSU)

Ron Harper Jr.

Shooting Guard | 6-6, 245lb | Don Bosco Prep | Franklin Lakes, NJ | Sophomore

12.2 PPG | 1.1 APG | 5.7 RPG | 0.8 SPG | 0.8 BPG | 1.1 TOV | .455 FG% | .327 3P%

The son of a five-time NBA champion, Ron Harper Jr. has made the most of his pro basketball pedigree by being Rutgers’ focal point on offense. Harper effectively uses his strength on drives to the rim, finishing through contact with ease despite not being a high-level athlete. Although his perimeter shooting numbers are far from elite, he is capable of getting hot from that range, as evidenced by his 5 of 5 performance against Illinois on February 15th.

Mike Watkins

Power Forward | 6-9, 254lb | The Phelps School | Philadelphia, PA | Senior

9.8 PPG | 0.6 APG | 7.8 RPG | 0.9 SPG | 2.4 BPG | 1.1 TOV | .550 FG% | .000 3P%

Penn State’s Mike Watkins is the defensive anchor for the Nittany Lions and has been recognized as such as a former Big Ten All-Defense selection. The in-state product has excelled as a rim protector in his four years in Happy Valley, averaging 2.3 blocks per game for his career while tallying 263 blocks, which ranks second all-time in school history behind former pro Calvin Booth. The downside with Watkins is his dreadful free throw shooting, putting up a 53.8 percent success rate from the charity stripe. If Penn State hopes to go deep in March, they will need to ensure they limit his free throw line visits.

Rutgers at Penn State Predictions and Odds

The odds for Duke vs NC State are provided by William Hill NJ, DraftKings Sportsbook, and SugarHouse NJ.

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