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Rutgers big underdogs at Ohio State: Can the Scarlet Knights keep it close?

The Scarlet Knights will have their hands full with the Buckeyes.

Rutgers v Wisconsin Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

Last time the Scarlet Knights were in Columbus, Tanner Holden nailed a buzzer-beater to give Ohio State a one-point win that the Big Ten eventually admitted should have been waved off.

Now, Rutgers returns to Columbus in a bit of a lull looking to turn it around in Big Ten play. Could the revenge factor carry Rutgers to compete on Wednesday night?

Rutgers enters Wednesday night’s Big Ten matchup as an 8.5-point underdog against the 11-2 Buckeyes. The Scarlet Knights are coming off arguably their worst performance of the season, a one-point win against Stonehill (2-13).

The recent trends point to Rutgers keeping the game close. It has covered its last three games against Ohio State, including a four-point overtime victory on its home floor last season. Each game in this matchup has been decided by four points or less since 2022.

Rutgers has been able to keep it close due to its stingy defensive efforts and that will have to be the case once again. The Scarlet Knights expected to play a faster brand of offensive basketball this season but it has not translated into more points. Instead, a Steve Pikiell led team remains strong defensively and has a chance to make it ugly in Columbus.

The advantage that Ohio State has, other than home-court advantage, is rebounding. The Buckeyes can take control of this battle on both ends and create second-chance points.

The current vibe around Rutgers is not a good one after stealing a victory late against a team that has 13 losses already. That can all chance if Rutgers puts up a fight and keeps it close in Columbus. Over the years, that has been the case and it will be interesting to see if Pikiell draws up another flawless game plan to keep the game close.