Michigan State Basketball: Staff score predictions vs. Rutgers in Big Ten opener

LOUISVILLE, KY - NOVEMBER 27: Nick Ward #44 of the Michigan State Spartans shoots the ball against the Louisville Cardinals at KFC YUM! Center on November 27, 2018 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - NOVEMBER 27: Nick Ward #44 of the Michigan State Spartans shoots the ball against the Louisville Cardinals at KFC YUM! Center on November 27, 2018 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Michigan State basketball will open Big Ten play on the road against the red-hot Rutgers Scarlet Knights. What does the staff have to say about the matchup?

When the schedule came out for this season, it appeared that the two Big Ten games that the Spartans would have to play prior to January were not easy but not overly difficult, by any stretch of the imagination.

Now as Michigan State gets set to play its first two Big Ten opponents, there are no guarantees of the Spartans being undefeated in Big Ten play heading into January.

Rutgers, who Michigan State opens the Big Ten season play against, is 5-1 and in their last game they went down to play Miami in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and won. Then after playing the Scarlet Knights, Michigan State hosts undefeated and 14th-ranked Iowa on Dec. 3.

Rutgers has been playing great defense holding Eastern Michigan and Bradley to 36 and 44 points, respectfully. The Scarlet Knights one loss on the season came at home against St. Johns. However, Rutgers has played well overall and they can score a lot of points at times and they can clamp down and play defense as well when need to.

Fun fact via ESPN.com, Rutgers scored 90 points against D-I opponents in consecutive games for the first time since 1990-91 to open the season. Coincidently, that’s also the last time Rutgers made the NCAA Tournament.

The Spartans should not overlook this team but Rutgers also is very beatable as seen when they lost by double digits to St. Johns.

Without further ado, here are the staff predictions

Ryan Kay: Rutgers is led by the dynamic duo of sophomore guard Geo Baker and junior forward Eugene Omoruyi both of whom are averaging just about 15 points per game. Rutgers goes eight deep with each of those players at minimum averaging 15 minutes per game. Issa Thiam and Peter Kiss help compliment Baker and Omoruyi on offense and more importantly on the defensive end as well.

The Scarlet Knights are well coached under Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell and he hopes to get Rutgers back to the NCAA Tournament. The most concerning part for the Spartans is that Rutgers plays an aggressive defense which forces their opponents to turn the ball over. The Scarlet Knights on their three-game winning streak have held their opponents to an average of just under 45 points per game.

The good news for Michigan State is during that same stretch, Rutgers is only averaging 58 points per game on offense. The Spartans, excluding their five wins, in their two neutral court games, losses to ACC foe Louisville and Big 12 opponent Kansas, they averaged 82.5 points. I truly don’t believe that Rutgers will dramatically slow down the Spartan offense and at worst, I see the Spartans scoring just over 70 points.

What I don’t see is Rutgers scoring over 70 against Michigan State. With that all being said, I still believe Michigan State when the final buzzer sounds win by double digits and open Big Ten play 1-0.

Final Score: Michigan State 77, Rutgers 64

Connor Muldowney: Beating a Rutgers team that just downed Miami on the road won’t be easy, but the Spartans aren’t going to let the Louisville defeat spark a losing streak. Cassius Winston and Josh Langford are going to bounce back after their worst games of the year and the defense will step up. It’s not going to be easy to find open shots on this Rutgers team which plays great defense. Nick Ward, too, will have a strong showing as Kyle Ahrens comes off the bench to score 10.

Final Score: Michigan State 70, Rutgers 65

Next. MSU basketball: 5 takeaways from Louisville loss. dark

Stephen Robb: Rutgers basketball could be turning the corner and might begin earning respect in the Big Ten. The Scarlet Knight defense smothered Miami this week and now they are 5-1 and going against MSU. Sophomore Geo Baker leads the team in scoring and assists. Eugene Omoruyi is tough in the paint at 6-foot-7 and 234 pounds. This will be a close game coming down to who can hit the three. Rutgers does a great job of controlling the paint so MSU will resort to shooting on the perimeter.

Final Score: Michigan State 61, Rutgers 59