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Rutgers Takes On St. John's

Previewing Wednesday Night's Match-up.

Patrick McDermott

2 years after the unforgettable "Jim Burr and Tim Higgins Go to Happy Hour Early" debacle, Rutgers returns to MSG to play St. John's. Both teams are coming off huge wins against ranked teams. This game has a weird vibe. If Rutgers wants to have a special season, this is one they need to win. Losing it is not a season killer, but winning it can start fans thinking "Hey, maybe Rutgers will win the games their supposed to and--just maybe--more."

So, here are the keys:

1. Rebound: Other than the Cincy game, St. John's hasn't been a good rebounding time. Kadeem Jack and Wally Judge have an opportunity to have a big game if they crash the boards. St. John's still plays zone, which should allow for a lot of offensive rebounds and easy put backs.

2. Turnovers: During the Pittsburgh game, Rutgers played some solid defense, and the turnovers they forced led to run outs and easy baskets. Rutgers is at its best when its playing fast, getting fast break baskets. Forcing turnovers can only help Rutgers play to its strength on offense.

3. Take Care of the Ball: The Scarlet Knights are turnover prone, and St. John's really likes to run as well. If Rutgers can hold on to the ball, it makes it that much harder for the Red Storm to score.

4. Make D'Angelo Harrison Work: Harrison is going to get his points. But, like last year's game at the RAC, Rutgers needs to make Harrison work hard. Let him tire out, don't let him get hot.

5. Play Confident: One of the things that has been lacking, it seems, is Rutgers' confidence. They haven't really played like they know they're going to win. Big leads surprise them. Comebacks by the opponent surprise them. Rutgers needs to play like they are going to win this game, no ifs ands or buts. Myles Mack and Eli Carter need to do their thing, and everyone else has to do their job. Rutgers is the deeper team, show it. Get to the line. Make jump shots. Drive to the basket it. But do it knowing you're going to come out on top.

For more on Rutgers/St. John's, check out Rumble In The Garden and the Not Half Bad podcast featuring me and Norman.