Iowa Basketball: Prediction and preview against Rutgers

Iowa basketball heads to New Jersey to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Here’s a prediction and preview of the game.

The No. 10 Iowa Hawkeyes (8-2) face another ranked Big Ten opponent on Saturday when they travel to Rutgers Athletic Center to take on No. 14 Rutgers (7-1). The game will be televised at 1:00 pm CT on ESPN2. Iowa is a 3-point favorite.

The Hawkeyes are fresh off a double-digit victory over the No. 19 Northwestern Wildcats earlier this week, bringing their conference record to 2-1. With another win on Saturday against Rutgers, Iowa can begin stringing together a nice winning streak in preparation for what appears to be a difficult upcoming schedule.

Including Rutgers, the Hawkeyes are slated to face ranked opponents in four of their next five games.

The Hawkeyes have two wins and one loss against ranked teams so far, while the Scarlet Knights have won one of their two games against ranked opponents.

The Scarlet Knights have been a tough beat at home recently. Rutgers has won its last six home games dating back to last season, and began the 2020 season on a six-game winning streak before falling to No. 23 Ohio State.

Rutgers has been reliant on four core players this season – Ron Harper Jr., Montez Mathis, Jacob Young, Paul Mulcahy – all of whom average over 31 minutes per game. Harper Jr. leads the team in scoring (23.4) while averaging 50 percent from three.

As a team, Rutgers averages a modest 81 points per game while allowing 71. The Hawkeyes average 94 points and give up 74 per game.

The key to this game? Turnovers. The Hawkeyes have coughed up a turnover on only 12.7 percent of their possessions this season (fourth-best in Division I). Meanwhile, Rutgers has forced a turnover on just 17.3 percent of their opposition’s possessions (283rd). If Iowa can continue that stellar rate of protecting the ball, it’s hard to see them losing this contest.

Rutgers vs. Iowa prediction

Hawkeyes win by a final score of 80-75. It’s hard to see Rutgers outscoring Iowa, especially without forcing many turnovers. The Scarlet Knights will keep it close, and the Hawkeyes may fall behind a few times, but in the end the better team prevails.