Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights – March Madness, Wednesday, March 16, 2022

| March 15, 2022 6:20 am PDT

The last game of the First Four will feature a battle between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Rutgers Scarlet Knights. This will be the first time either team plays in the First Four. The winner will play Alabama in the Round of 64.

Both teams had a rough start to the season but did enough in conference play to sneak into the NCAA Tournament. They’ll need a victory to play in the Round of 64.

Check out the odds for Wednesday night’s matchup.

Notre Dame vs. Rutgers Odds for March 16th 

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+1.0)-110
Rutgers Scarlet Knights (-1.0)-110
Notre Dame to Win-120
Rutgers to WinEVEN
Over 132-110
Under 132-110

Bovada has the Notre Dame Fighting Irish as a (-1.0) point favorite. Notre Dame had four more wins than the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, but the sportsbooks are showing their respect for Rutgers.

Rutgers had a great stretch in February, but they only covered in one of their final six games. That includes a 10-point loss in their only Big Ten Tournament game. Rutgers went under their point total in four of their last five games.

Notre Dame had a rough start with their betting trends, but they haven’t failed to cover in consecutive games since December.

Oh by the way, they failed to cover their last game. They have gone over their point total in seven of their previous eight games.

Neither team enters the matchup with significant injuries. Notre Dame will be without two players that have played limited minutes.

Which team will advance out of the First Four to play Alabama? Let’s break down their chances of victory.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish Preview

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish didn’t look like a March Madness team after a 4-5 start. From there, we saw them perform like one of the top teams in the ACC. They looked like a sure thing in the NCAA Tournament, but they closed the regular season with two losses in their final five games.

It didn’t help when Notre Dame lost their first ACC Tournament game to Virginia Tech. Nonetheless, a 22-10 record was enough to earn them a spot in the First Four.

We saw Notre Dame pick up big wins, but what was their biggest victory in the last month? Since January 5, they have one victory over an NCAA Tournament team. I think that’s why people are down on their chances.

If Notre Dame wants to advance to the Round of 64, they’ll need their star players to step up. Blake Wesley leads the team with 14.6 points per game. He has been playing at a high level, but we haven’t seen the same from Dane Goodwin.

Goodwin averaged 13.9 points per game, but check out his scoring over the last six games.

  • @ Wake Forest: 3 points
  • Syracuse: 7 points
  • Georgia Tech: 17 points
  • @ Florida State: 6 points
  • Pittsburgh: 10 points
  • Virginia Tech: 11 points

He shot below 45 percent in four of those games. Notre Dame’s offense doesn’t have a ton of firepower anyway, so he needs to turn things around. If not, Notre Dame will have a tough time competing with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

It’ll be interesting to see how Notre Dame looks against stiffer competition. As I mentioned, it has been a while since they’ve defeated a quality team. They’ll have to do so if they want to make the Round of 64.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights Preview 

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights have had a roller-coaster season. They started 5-5, but that stretch included a victory over No. 1 Purdue. Later in the season, they picked up four straight wins over top 25 teams.

However, Rutgers followed that up with three straight losses. They lost their only game in the Big Ten Tournament, but their top 25 victories were enough to avoid the NIT Tournament. While we’re on that, check out the 2022 NIT Tournament betting preview.

With Rutgers, everything runs through their star players. Check out the numbers for Ron Harper Jr. and Geo Baker.

  Ron Harper Jr. Geo Baker
Points 15.6 12.4
Rebounds 5.9 2.0
Steals 1.1 1.2
Field Goal Percentage 43.4 40.0
Three-Point Percentage 39.0 32.9

Honestly, I’m a bit concerned with Baker. We haven’t seen him play up to his potential lately. He scored seven or fewer points in three of his last seven games. Rutgers needs him to at least play up to his potential.

Baker did have a nice performance in the Big Ten Tournament, putting up 23 points on 9-16 shooting. People betting on Rutgers would love to see him replicate that performance.

Harper has done a good job picking up the slack. He has scored 10+ points in eight straight games, but only one of those was over 20 points. It’d be nice to see him have a “wow” performance.

The key to success for Rutgers is their defense.

They rank in the top 100 with 65.8 points allowed per game. However, they allowed 66+ points in five of their last six games. In their four-game win streak over ranked teams, they allowed 62.8 points.

Which one will show up for Wednesday night’s First Four game? Here is my game pick.

Notre Dame vs. Rutgers Pick 

  • Rutgers to Win

The one-point spread means there’s no point in picking the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on the spread. I believe they’ll win this game outright.

We’ve seen Rutgers compete with the best teams in the country. It has gone the other way, but they’re better suited for this moment than the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Notre Dame hasn’t defeated a team like Rutgers in a while. I think their NCAA Tournament ends in the First Four.

Wednesday’s game is 9:10 p.m. ET on TruTV. Check out this betting preview if you’d like more betting information on the First Four.

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Nicholas Sterling

Nicholas has been a Sports Writer with since May 2021. He has a rich sports background, writing about NASCAR, NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, Golf, etc. Nick is always ready for a new challenge.

He enjoys rooting on D.C. sports teams, including the Commanders, Wizards, and Capitals.

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