March Madness predictions: Michigan will own Rutgers again

With perspective of the real tragedy … Those poor Rutgers fans.

Michigan (-3) over Rutgers: Is the game at the RAC? No? Well, that makes this easy. Despite the Scarlet Knights’ remarkable 17-1 home record, the long-suffering program spent recent weeks in danger of destroying their season after losing 10 of their first 11 games away from campus. One such loss came in a de facto home game at the Garden against Michigan, which also served Rutgers its only home defeat of the season, and won both contests without now healthy starting power forward/sharpshooter Isaiah Livers. It isn’t tough to beat a team three times in a season. It’s tough to beat a team that’s bigger and better.

Seton Hall (-2½) over Marquette: Myles Powell and Markus Howard — the past two Big East Players of the Year — could put on an all-time duel. But even if Howard wins the senior showdown, Powell is certain to get far more help from his friends. In the most recent meeting, the nation’s leading scorer put up 37 and suffered a nine-point loss to the Pirates. Seton Hall will get a boost of confidence from sweeping the season series and playing near home, while the one-man show that is Marquette — which has lost six of its past seven games — won’t be enough again.

Providence (+1½) over Butler: The Friars enter the Big East Tournament as the hottest team in the league, riding a six-game win streak. Ed Cooley’s work at the Garden is even more encouraging, having led Providence teams seeded fourth or lower to one championship, another title game and two semifinals since 2014.

UMass (+7) over Vcu: The Rams have made the title game in five of seven Atlantic 10 Tournaments in Brooklyn, but this version has won just once in its past eight games. One loss came to the Minutemen, whose young core — led by freshman Tre Mitchell, who is averaging 22.8 points, 10.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in the past seven games — suddenly looks ready for this stage.

Texas Tech (-5½) over Texas: Here’s to thinking the ninth-most efficient defense in the country won’t allow 45.5 percent of 3-pointers to be made against them, like in their most recent loss to the Longhorns. Here’s to believing in Chris Beard far more than Shaka Smart.

This season: 1-3.
2011-19 record: 259-221-9

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