Rutgers vs. Purdue Prediction: Can Boilers Cover Huge Spread Against the New-Look Knights?

Written by: Andrew Norton
Published February 22, 2024
7 min read

After an abysmal road loss to Ohio State, the No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers (23-3, 12-3 in Big Ten) will turn their attention towards the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (14-11, 6-8 in Big Ten) on Thursday night in a Big Ten battle.

Purdue remains undefeated on its home floor, boasting a 13-0 record at Mackey Arena, while Rutgers has logged three wins in nine road games thus far in the 2023-24 season.

Look at our Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Purdue Boilermakers prediction, betting odds, and analysis below to find out which team will cover the spread for us!

Rutgers Scarlet Knights guard Derek Simpson drives to the basket ball

Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Purdue Boilermakers Betting Odds for Thursday, Feb. 22

The Purdue Boilermakers are massive favorites at home against Rutgers. The spread is currently set at 15.5 points in favor of Purdue. Thus far in the 2023-24 campaign, the Boilermakers are 14-10-2 against the spread overall and 6-6-1 ATS at home. Meanwhile, the Scarlet Knights are just 12-13 ATS overall and 4-5 ATS as the away team. 

The Over/Under for this bout hangs around 139.5 points, with each side holding -110 odds. Purdue has a 17-9 Over record this season, while Rutgers boasts merely an 8-17 Over record, tied for seventh-worst nationally.

When this was written, Moneyline odds for Purdue and Rutgers were not available on the BetMGM sportsbook.

Teams Spread Moneyline Total 
Rutgers Scarlet Knights +15.5 (-115) N/A Over 139.5 (-105)
Purdue Boilermakers -15.5 (-105) N/A Under 139.5 (-115)

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It is highly improbable for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights to make the NCAA Tournament this season, as their hopes of an at-large bid have dissipated. Rutgers is only 6-8 in the Big Ten through late February and would have to knock off No. 3 Purdue on the road to inch closer to .500 in conference play. 

Needless to say, that is unlikely, as there are only six games left in the 2023-24 regular season, and the Scarlet Knights would probably have to win at least five of those games, including this one, to return to “bubble” territory. Or, they would have to win the Big Ten conference tournament after the regular season to secure an automatic bid. That would require a heroic effort.

Expectations for Rutgers this season were low, as it lost Cam Spencer, Caleb McConnell, and Paul Mulcahy, three of its four best and most experienced players. In fact, the Scarlet Knights were picked to finish tenth (out of 14 teams) in the Big Ten preseason media poll. That is precisely where the team sits right now in the conference standings. 

Like last season, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights thrive on the defensive end of the floor, ranking second in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric behind only Houston. The Scarlet Knights hold opponents to just 39.8% shooting from the field (ninth in the nation) and 31.2% from behind the arc (48th), while forcing more than 15 turnovers per game (20th.) 

An area that Rutgers struggles in, which could cause problems in this game, is defensive rebounding; the Scarlet Knights rank 221st in defensive rebounding percentage and only pull down 68.9% of their opponents’ misses while on the road. Another issue for this team should be obvious based on recent history: offense. 

Rutgers ranks 277th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 342nd (out of 362 teams) in three-point percentage; it does a fairly decent job on the offensive glass, pulling down just shy of 30% of its misses, but not nearly enough to compensate for an atrocious offensive attack.

However, the Scarlet Knights recently cleared Jeremiah Williams, a player who suffered an Achilles tear before the start of the 2022-23 season when he was enrolled at Iowa State. In five games back, Williams has averaged 13.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and four assists per game on a not-so-efficient shooting split of 39/25/86, but that is to be expected considering he has been out for a long time. 

Still, his impact on this team is intriguing, to say the least. Rutgers has won four of its past five games, with a road loss to Minnesota being the only blip in that span. Between Williams, Clifford Omoruyi, Aundre Hyatt, and Derek Simpson, the Scarlet Knights might finally have enough offense to keep most games competitive, regardless of the venue.

Meanwhile, the No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers are again one of the best teams in the nation behind reigning Wooden Award winner Zach Edey. Edey, a physically imposing 7-foot-4 center, dominates the game on both ends of the floor, using his size, strength, footwork, and timing to wreak havoc in the paint and on the glass. 

Purdue has a boatload of returners from last season’s team, including Trey Kaufman-Renn, Braden Smith, Fletcher Loyer, and Mason Gillis, while newcomers Myles Colvin, a four-star freshman, and Lance Jones, a senior guard transfer, have filled out the rotation. 

The addition of Jones and the improvement of Loyer and Smith have been the X-Factors for this Boilermakers squad that has gone from being a mediocre, bottom-half three-point shooting team to the fourth-ranked (40.1%) nationally. 

Purdue certainly has the offensive personnel to make a deep NCAA Tournament run, as Edey is unguardable in the post, and the moment that opposing teams send double-teams, he has developed the vision and passing IQ to make on-time passes to shooters. Six of the Boilermakers’ top seven players in three-point attempts hit between 42% and 48% of their attempts. 

Defensively, the Boilermakers aren’t quite as prolific; they rank 20th in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric and 52nd in opponent effective field goal percentage. Still, Edey’s interior presence allows Purdue’s guards to press up on perimeter players.

Will Rutgers hand the Boilermakers their first home loss this season, or will Purdue steamroll the Scarlet Knights in a bounce-back game? Find out through our Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Purdue Boilermakers prediction below.

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Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Purdue Boilermakers Prediction and Betting Pick

For several reasons, Purdue is a tough team to bet against on its home floor. First, the Boilermakers shoot 43.8% from behind the arc at home, which ranks them third nationally behind only two mid-majors. No major program shoots better at home than Purdue. 

Additionally, they take 27.2 free throws per game at Mackey Arena, which ranks ninth in the nation. Again, the only teams in this category, save Auburn, that are ahead of them are low-to-mid-major programs. 

The whistle that Zach Edey gets, in general, is insane. It’s not that the whistle isn’t justified; it just makes it challenging to defend him. Edey either dunks, has an easy hook shot, or gets fouled every time he touches the ball. 

The key to this game for Rutgers will be whether or not Clifford Omoruyi can stay out of foul trouble. Without Omoruyi on the floor, Rutgers can only lean on Antwone Woolfolk to try to stop Edey. Woolfolk is still merely a sophomore, and at 6-foot-9 and 225 pounds, he will be seven or eight inches shorter and close to 80 pounds lighter than Edey.

Still, even with the whistle that Edey gets, we believe Omoruyi can slow him down a bit and stay out of foul trouble; he has only had four games this season where he has logged 4+ fouls in a game, which is an encouraging sign ahead of this matchup.

There is much to like about this Rutgers team with the addition of Jeremiah Williams, a big guard who can help the Scarlet Knights perform better on the offensive end of the floor. This team has some hope, especially since they have secured wins in two of their past three road games. They don’t need to win; they just need not to get blown out.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Purdue Boilermakers pick: Rutgers Scarlet Knights +15.5 at BetMGM.

How to Watch Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Purdue Boilermakers

  • When: Thursday, Feb. 22 @ 4:00/7:00 p.m. PT/ET

  • Where: Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, IN

  • TV: FoxSports (FS1)

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Andrew Norton

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Andrew has always been an avid sports fan and followed his hoop dreams all the way to college. He’s well-versed in everything betting with multiple years of experience and is qualitatively and quantitatively knowledgeable in sports statistics and analytics.
Nationality: American
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