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Previewing Pittsburgh: Rutgers Basketball Game 21

Here comes number 2.

They're the deepest team in the Big East.  Maybe the country.  They're angry after just losing to Notre Dame.  They have had a week to prepare.  They rebound.  They shoot.  They dominate.

And they're coming to the RAC to take on one of the thinnest teams in the Big East, albeit one of the teams that plays the hardest.

Does Rutgers stand a chance?

Find out what they can do after the jump...


1. Keep the RAC rocking.... Honestly, this may be the most important key.  The crowd has to be in it.  And that's a give and take with the Rutgers team.  The squad has to play well enough to keep the game close.  But the crowd has to be loud even when the shots aren't falling.  It may not rattle Pitt, they're too good for that.  But it'll keep RU's confidence high.  Don't let the team get down on itself, because a four pt deficit can become 13 really fast.  The students need to be there.  The RAC needs to be an asylum tonight.


2. BOX OUT!!!!!  Pittsburgh is the best rebounding team in the country.  They're going to outrebound Rutgers.  But RU has to do it's best to get the key rebounds on Pitt misses.  Make sure you find your man and put a body on him as soon as the shot goes up.  Grab the ball when it's in the air, don't wait for it to get to you.  Hope for a few over-the-back calls.

3. Be efficient on offense... ND beat Pitt shooting only 33 times.  But they made enough of those shots to stay ahead. Rutgers is going to have to do the same thing.  The advantage here is Rutgers has two coaches in Mike Rice and David Cox who've been on Jamie Dixon's staff.  They know what Pittsburgh does, and they know how to attack it.  Rutgers has been pretty good at executing the coaches' game plans so far these season, but they'll have to bring their A+ game tonight.

4. Smart fouls... If Pittsburgh has a weakness, it's foul shooting.  They shoot just under 70%.  Rutgers' fouls are going to have to count.  Gilvydas Biruta can't be getting called for stupid fouls 15 feet away from the basket.  The fouls have to be to stop fastbreaks or to make Pitt earn their points.  Foul a guy hard, foul a guy clean and force him to miss the shot.

5.  Dane Miller, Jonathan Mitchell, James Beatty, and Biruta... Rutgers has yet to have a game where all their scorers are "on" and shooting the lights out.  If ever they needed a night, tonight is it.  Beatty and Mitchell needs to shoot and hit the three.   Miller and Biruta have to get to the basket.  Make the lay-ups.  Hit your free throws.  Be smart and play well offensively.

6. Miller's defense... More and more Mr. Miller has become the team's defensive stud.  He needs to keep it up tonight.  Keep and eye on him.  Along with the rest of the team, Miller needs to force turnovers and frustrate the PItt offense.

Unfortunately, life's gotten in the way, and I won't be at the RAC tonight.  I'm DVRing the game, so the recap will probably be up early tomorrow.

But don't let me stop you.  Get out to the RAC.  Be loud.  Take charge. 

And if you can't, the game's on ESPN 2 at 8 pm.