Rutgers Scarlet Knights Preview
Date: Saturday, January 21st - 11:00 am - Piscataway, NJ - Louis Brown Athletic Center
2015-16 Record: 7-25 (1-17 Big Ten)
2016-17 Record: 11-8 (0-7 Big Ten)
Head Coach: Steve Pikiell (1st Year)
Looks like it’s another rebuilding year for the Scarlet Knights. Looking back, it’s seems just about every year is a rebuilding year for the Scarlet Knights. It has been awhile since Rutgers has been a player in basketball and this season is not going to be one of them.
The boys from Jersey did start the year off 11-1. However, their competition was a bit on the weak side. If you want, you could use the term “Lil’ Sister of the Poor” in referencing their schedule. Wins against Molloy and Hartford don’t exactly get you ready for conference play.
I state that because all the good will that was brought on with playing lesser talented teams in the non con really didn’t do the team much good once conference play started. Their current losing streak all started with a loss to Seaton hall that snowballed into blowouts from just about every Big Ten team they’ve played since. They played Iowa close for a bit during that match up, but nothing much to inspire hope in the Rutgers faithful.
I shouldn’t come down on Rutgers too hard. They have become a fairly solid defensive team up Pikielli. They have been holding their opponents under 40% shooting on the year and are averaging 42 rebounds per game. That last big is impressive when you realize they are also out rebounding their opponents by 8 a game.
There is some talent on the squad this year. they are lead by sophomore guard Corey Sanders who is averaging 11.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg, and 3.5 apg. Nebraska should match up well against him throughout the game and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Huskers defense eventually shuts his production down.
Sanders is followed up by Deshawn Freeman. The junior forward is leading the Big Ten in offensive rebounds and is averaging 8.7 rpg. Then again, it is a little easier to pull them down when you’re offense is ranked dead last in the big ten in scoring offense. Having a 41% field goal percentage as a team will give you those opportunities. He also puts them back up fairly well with 11.5 ppg.
Junior guard Mike Williams is another scorer who has seen a drop in production the last few weeks due to a bug so his averages have dropped a bit. He is currently averaging 10.3 ppg and 4.4 rpg. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see an uptick in his play if the Sanders gets shut down.
Should the Huskers win this game? Yes.
Rutgers has a few pieces of talent but the production drops off considerably after the first 3 or 4 players. Like Nebraska, they play defense fairly well and struggle on offense. However, Nebraska has the depth and experience that can pull them thorough tough games. The Big Red also have done well on the road this year. Something that will help in New Jersey.
I don’t think your every day Nebraska scoring drought could hurt the team enough to lose to Rutgers this year. Even with Ed Morrow still injured.