And so here we are, the highlight of the season, as the big name teams start to flood the RAC. First up is probably the toughest challenge of all the challenges. The Wisconsin Badgers take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights tomorrow at 6 pm on BTN.
1. Can Rutgers win? That's the big question isn't it? Everything has to go right for Rutgers to win this game. The Badgers have to come in sleeping, expecting that just their presence will be enough to win the game. Then, Rutgers will have to bring its A game. Mike Williams and Myles Mack will have to be hot from three point range and Kadeem Jack will have to attack the basket. DUNKS AFTER DUNKS. That's the way Rutgers wins, however, that is a tough, tough thing to ask for.
2. What's up with Junior Etou? Etou showed so much promise early in the season, featuring a soft baseline jumper, the ability to hit the 3, and also getting to the rim on some tough cuts. However, since conference play began, he's been MIA on offense. Etou, like Jack, has to get back to playing in the paint. If he does that, he can draw fouls on Wisconsin's big guys, which would help.
3. How good is the Badgers front court? Damn good. Next question. *waits* Okay, fine. They have a seven foot stud in Frank Kaminsky who can do it all--attack the rim, shoot the three and drive to the hoop. He is a bear to defend and while Greg Lewis has been great inside, it might be a different kind of challenge for him. We may see a ton of Shaquille Doorson in the game to give Kaminsky a different look. Sam Dekker the 6'9" forward is just as good, and Eddie Jordan would be wise to keep Jack away from him on the defensive end, and instead use Etou.
4. What will the crowd be like? As of yesterday, Carino wrote that only 500 regular seats remain. The student section is an unknown, but students are on break and the team lost... they'll be there, but probably not en mass. However, will this be a pro-Rutgers crowd? One can hope, but the rumor is a lot of Badger fans are making the trip and will pack the RAC. There will be juice in the building, much like there was when Penn State came to town, but can the Scarlet Knights play well enough to keep the fans in Scarlet engaged? We won't have that answer until at least half time.
5. Can Rutgers score? Wisconsin, like Rutgers, can grind, grind, grind. There is no doubt that Rutgers needs to score more than 50 points to win this game, however. It's time to play the way they did against their bigger wins. Cut to the hoop, pick and roll, and DEAR GOD, someone get hot from 3 point land. Even if it's Kadeem Jack (no, no, no... KADEEM DUNK THE BALL AND GET FOULED PLEASE). I'd be tempted to play 3 guards for a stretch of this game, using Bishop Daniels as a cutter and then passing it out to either Williams or Mack for open 3s. Basically, Rutgers has to do something it has been unable to do all year... score.
Winning this game would be one of the biggest wins in team history, and it would also be the highest ranked team Rutgers has ever beaten. Let's hope everything goes right tomorrow night.