The last time Rutgers and Seton Hall faced off, Rutgers was coming off its biggest win of the season. The Pirates came to the RAC and knocked off the Knights. This time, Rutgers is recovering from arguably its worse loss of the season. So, what can the Scarlet Knights do against their hated rival?
Forget Providence.... This may be the biggest key for Rutgers. After blowing a 13 point second half lead, most teams would come into the tournament with their heads down. Seton Hall has been playing extremely well lately, and Rutgers can't afford to mope. If RU comes in and plays great defense, they'll have a shot. But if they're still thinking about the Friars, they're going to be in trouble.
Defend the Pick and Roll... In the last match-up, Jordan Theodore used Rutgers' switching defense against them. He repeatedly ran the pick and roll until he was defended by Gilvydas Biruta and a guard was stuck on Herb Pope. Theodore then had the option to drive or dish and took full advantage. Rutgers needs to be prepared for this and be ready to fight through screens.
Make Jeremy Hazell Work for his points... Rutgers has seen two different Hazells this year. In the first match-up, Jeremy was just returning from injury and-although he scored-he didn't have much of an impact. Rutgers was able to come up with the win. In the next match-up, Hazell was back in the groove. Rutgers lost. Now he's one of the hottest players in the league. Slow him down, catch him off balance, and don't fall for the Hazell flop.
Get Herb Pope in foul trouble... Feed Biruta and Jonathan Mitchell down low. Take the ball hard to the rim and score through contact. If Pope is not on the floor, SHU is a different team.
Get the ball to the seniors...Jonathan Mitchell, James Beatty, and Mike Coburn have driven the bus all season. If these guys can score, distribute and make smart plays, Rutgers should be in decent shape. If the seniors have decided the season is already over, Rutgers won't stand a chance. The seniors all need to score.
More on the Big East Tournament after the jump...The Big East is the best conference in the nation and all the games should be competitive, and there's always at least one classic game a day.
Some interesting things to watch out for on day one:
-Does DePaul have anything in them? The Blue Demons have been bad this year and only won one game. Going against UConn and one of the best players in the conference in Kemba Walker is not going to be a picnic. If they can hang with the Huskies, they should take that as a moral victory.
-How bad off is Villanova this year? They should be able to slide past USF in the first round, but if they don't, the team could be on the bubble. Jay Wright needs to right the ship if they want to make any sort of run in the NCAAs, and that has to start Tuesday night.
-How many points will Marshon Brooks put up? The Providence Marquette match-up has the makings of Upset City if Brooks continues to score the way he has all season. Brooks is fun to watch, and he could dominate the 9:30 game. Marquette can score too, and that game could come down to the wire.
-As I mentioned before, how will Rutgers come out? If they're fired up, they should be in the game. But if the team feels their season ended when Coburn's FT rimmed out, they could get run out of the building.
More on the Tournament coming up this week...
Also, here's Rutgers associate head coach David Cox discussing the Big East Tournament.