Last year, Rutgers was coming off a big with against Florida and traveled to the Sunshine State to take on South Florida in the Big East opener. At the time, the Bulls were hovering near .500 and no one thought much of them. The basketball game was a grind 'em out battle, and Anthony Collins scored a bucket late to put USF over the top. The Scarlet Knights had a rocky Big East season after that, while USF took off and went to the NCAAs. Now, the Bulls are 0-3 in conference and looking for their first win. Rutgers is looking to rebound from an ugly loss against the Cincinnati Bearcats.
1. Rebound and Run: Rutgers always plays their best when they play fast. USF is not a team known to light it up on the offensive end (see: 38 points scored against Louisville TOTAL), so Rutgers is going to have their chance to pull down some boards. They have to immediately look up court and find the guards for an easy basket. Preferably Myles Mack.
2. Match USF's Desperation: The Bulls may not be as marquee a name as Cincinnati was, but they're going to play just as hard. Rutgers can't afford to take them lightly. They can't afford to take anyone lightly. Rutgers needs to bring an A+ effort every night. Playing hard hasn't been a problem for this team, but now is not the time for that mistake to crop up either.
3. Eli Carter: Carter's been struggling lately, as teams key their defense on him. In the past two games, he's 4-25. Granted he's missed some open looks, but some shots have been forced as well. If Carter plays within himself and looks to set-up his teammates early, he's going to benefit. As will the team. He'll get his points, but they need to be smart points.
4. Get to the Foul Line: Best Free Throw shooting team in the Big East. Mack and Carter need to get to the line and get it done. It's a great weapon. Use it.
5. Slow Anthony Collins: Collins is a dynamic point guard, and the most electrifying player on the Bulls. Rutgers needs to man-up and make him work. Slow him down, make him think, not react and Rutgers will be in good shape.
For more information on this game, check out Matt Hladik's interview with Jerome Seagears. Seagears hasn't forgotten last year, saying, "Well, I know one thing; we lost to them last year on a buzzer-beater. It's definitely something to look forward to, going out there and competing against them to get the W. But they're a good team, they have a lot of good players."
Also, check out the Not Half Bad podcast starring me and Norman from Rumble in the Garden.
Game is at 9 pm. PACK THE RAC!