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Rutgers vs. Cincinnati: Big East Basketball Preview

So, um, there's a ... basketball game tomorrow. You remember college basketball, right Rutgers fans? Ball in hoop, 2 or 3 points?

I know it's been a weird week, but yeah, the Scarlet Knights take on the Bearcats tomorrow in a very important game. After losing to .... DePaul... Rutgers takes on a team that has been the best Big East road team over the past two years.

Keys and some thoughts after the jump....

1. Defend the rim, but don't forget Sean Kilpatrick: Yancy Gates is a beast when he decides to play, and the Bearcats are a lot like a good Pittsburgh team. They're physical, they want to bully you down low, and then dump it back out to Kilpatrick for a 3. Rutgers needs to keep their positions tomorrow night. Against DePaul, they focused on one guy at a time and left people open. That can't happen tomorrow.

2. Focus Less on Eli Carter: I know, I know. Carter has been great. But defenses are starting to single him out and it feels like too many of the Knights are sitting back waiting for him to get going each night. Myles Mack tried to pick up the slack against DePaul, but it wasn't enough. If each player gets their shots, Rutgers is a complete team. And that's how they're going to win. I know Mike Rice wants a go to guy, but that doesn't mean he has to have the ball every possession.

3. Rebound: Derrick Randall, Gilvydas Biruta, Austin Johnson, and Kadeem Jack have to do work. They have to box out, be physical and get the ball. At the same time, they have to stay out of foul trouble. If Cincinnati gets their hands on offensive rebounds, the Knights are in big trouble. Focus on getting the ball.

4. Respect Your Opponent: The Bearcats aren't a top ten team. But they are good. If the Blue Demons loss teaches Rutgers anything, they can't take anyone lightly. Rutgers needs to bring that top ten opponent effort every night. Especially tomorow.

5. Dane Miller, Dane Miller, Dane Miller: Rebounds, assists, shots. Do it.

In other news, with Greg Schiano leaving, Mike Rice has a golden opportunity for the rest of the season. He has a chance to become the face of Rutgers athletics, at least for a little while. If he can finish this season strong, the focus won't be on the football team. Not for a while. Rice will start to become a household Jersey name. It starts against the Bearcats. He needs to start coaching his best games and getting the most out of the team. If that happens, he could be the next Schiano.