Boy, the things that can change in a week. After beating the #4 team in the country and then going toe to toe on the road with two quality teams, Rutgers has a little bit of buzz. And a once vaunted team, the Wolverines are coming to town. The RAC is expected to be rowdy, so get ready.
1. How dangerous is Michigan? Spike Albrecht sat out their last game with an upper respiratory infection. They have a ton of walking wounded players. And the biggest blow, their leading scorer and rebounded Caris Lavert is out for the year with a foot injury. However, we've all heard of the Ewing Theory. Sometimes a team bands together when they lose their leader, and a John Beilein team is always dangerous. Rutgers needs to play just as hard and confident as they've been playing. This is the 2nd game in a row at the RAC where the visiting team will be playing without their best player.
2. Wait, does Rutgers have a target on their back? The news broke today that Rutgers is -3, and the favorite to win this game in Vegas. I'm not sure the Scarlet Knights have risen that far in the bettors eyes, and some of it has to do with the injured Michigan team, but wow. Who would have thought Rutgers would be favorites against Michigan--in basketball--this season?
3. Who will be the third scorer? Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack have been great in the past three games, with Mack dropping in 26 the other day. But not having a 3rd scorer has hurt in their previous two losses. Someone--Mike Williams, Bishop Daniels or even Junior Etou--needs to step up and put the ball in the basket. Mack and Jack won't be able to keep up this pace all year.
4. Is the RAC back? Early reports have the arena nearly sold out, and the students are back on campus, so they should be around. Plus, it sounds like Kyle Flood thinks it's 2004, and he's bringing some monster recruits to town to witness the atmosphere. The students need to get that place rocking from the tip--and maybe a "WE WANT YOU" chant will help as well. Of course, the primary focus, though--is on hoops tomorrow night. Someone make a Mike Francesa big head to freak out free throw shooters. The team can be lifted by a loud crowd.
5. Can Rutgers rebound and hold on to the ball? The turnovers and poor rebounding have been Rutgers' downfall in close games. Rutgers needs to be nearly perfect night in and night out to win. This team isn't deep enough otherwise. So they have to make winning plays, and rebounding and taking care of the ball are the little things that secure games.
The game is at 6:30 (odd time) on BTN--if you can't make it to the RAC, that is.