NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 08: Dane Miller #11 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights celebrates the overtime victory over the Seton Hall Pirates at Madison Square Garden on March 8, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Rutgers' full basketball schedule had been released and it's time to look it over and see if this is the year the NCAA streak is broken. Dates and Times are here, but the big question is how are the match-ups.
St. Peters, Sacred Heart, @ Princeton, Boston University, @ UNC-Greensboro, @ Ole Miss, Iona (Neutral Court), George Washington, UAB, Howard, and Rider.
Not a real big name on the docket. The toughest stretch is @UNC-Greensboro, @ Ole Miss, and then Iona in the Holiday Festival. Iona is building a powerhouse of team using other D-I cast offs, and could be the most difficult match-up in the OOC. Rutgers has a real shot at being 9-2 (dare I say 10-1?) heading into the Big East. If that's the case, expect a team that has a head of steam moving into the Big East portion of the schedule.
Of course, anything more than 3 losses on this is a big red flag.
Now let's take a look at the Big East schedule after the jump...
The First Third:
@ Syracuse, Pittsburgh, @St. John's, Cincinnati, USF, and @ Notre Dame
For once, Rutgers likely doesn't begin Big East play against 5 top ten teams in a row. A loss at 'Cuse is likely, but Rice has always coached well against Pittsburgh, beaten Cincy and SJU is developing into a nice rivalry--so those games are close. USF is a question mark for me. I have a feeling they're going to be very good, but at the RAC, Rutgers always has a shot. Notre Dame is always tough at home, so while Rutgers has a chance for some good wins here, 3-3 seems likely.
The Middle Third:
St. John's, @ UConn, @ Cincy, Louisville, Georgetown, and Seton Hall
This is the trickiest part of the schedule. Rutgers has a nice 3 game home stretch, but they are against two likely to be ranked teams and Seton Hall (which, let's face it, is always close and keeps winning at the RAC). A lot here depends on how Rutgers is going. If they've gotten off to a hot start, confidence could drag them through this portion of the schedule ahead. There's the revenge factor against G'Town after last year's close loss. Also, I have no idea how good UConn is going to be. If the team is rounding into form here, though, it's time for this team to get on a run. I want the team to be at least 6-6 here to set up a run at the end.
The Final Third:
@ DePaul, @ Villanova, Providence, @ Georgetown, Marquette, @ Seton Hall
On paper, this isn't a bad run. DePaul is DePaul (and you can be sure Rice will remind the team how lightly they took the Blue Demons last year). And hopefully, revenge will continue to motivate them against Villanova and Providence. Confidence will continue to be key. At this point, the 7 man sophomore class needs to have completely figured it out. Dane Miller needs to be leading big time. If the team has figure out how to win, then a postseason bid could be at stake.
A very interesting schedule, because on paper, it's not intimidating. But it's the Big East, which is always a grind. This team has a chance to do something special--if they don't tune out Rice again. Hopefully, fans can expect at least an NIT bid, but don't give up on the Big Dance.