How To Watch:
TV: 1pm on BTN
Radio: Rutgers IMG Radio Network WOR (710 AM) & WCTC (1450 AM); WRSU (88.7 FM); Sirius Radio channel 119; XM Radio channel 195
Spread: Monmouth -10.5
Monmouth enters today's game with a 7-3 record that includes wins over UCLA, USC, Notre Dame and Georgetown. It was last Tuesday night when the Hawks dominated the Hoyas in Washington D.C., leading by double figures most of the second half and winning by 15 points. They are led by junior guard Justin Robinson and freshman guard Micah Seaborn. Robinson is averaging 20 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals per game. Seaborn is averaging 15 points a game on 49% shooting from the field. Both players average over two three-pointers made per game, shooting 43% or better from long range. Monmouth is a really good shooting team overall, averaging 42% from the field, 38% from three-point range, and 82% from the free throw line. They are an aggressive and confident team who are looking for revenge after last season's buzzer beater 1 point loss to Rutgers. Monmouth has lost all nine previous meetings against Rutgers coming into today. Their bench mob has gained national attention and were on the Today show this week.
Rutgers is down to eight scholarship players, as center Ibrahima Diallo broke his foot in practice on Thursday. He joins center Shaq Doorson and forward Deshawn Freeman on the sidelines. All three are out indefinitely, a nightmare scenario for Rutgers with Big Ten play starting in just ten days. Against Monmouth and every opponent for the time being, Rutgers only has senior Greg Lewis and sophomore D.J. Foreman in their frontcourt. Coach Eddie Jordan will need to play small at times and must get strong guard and wing play to stay in this game.
Five Keys to the Game:
Corey Sanders v. Justin Robinson
This will be a huge test for Sanders, who is coming off his worst game of the season, in last Saturday's blow out loss against George Washington. Robinson is super quick and will try to beat Sanders off the dribble repeatedly. Robinson is shooting 93% from the free throw line and will look to penetrate and get a good look in the paint or get fouled. Sanders will need to stay in front of Robinson and not commit any careless fouls. On offense, Sanders needs to get the team into their offense on a consistent basis throughout the game. He can't try to win the game by himself and must get Mike Williams and Bishop Daniels going early. Robinson is just 5'8" so Sanders will have a significant height advantage. He must be patient and not force the issue on both ends of the floor.
Limit Second Chance Points
Both teams average 38 rebounds a game and Rutgers MUST win the battle of the boards to win this game. Monmouth outrebounded Georgetown by 9 boards on Tuesday and in the second half, beat the Hoyas to every loose ball, capitalizing on second chance points. Rutgers has been victimized by opponents the same way all season and if they allow Monmouth to do the same, they will get blown out. They have to limit easy baskets and not allow the Hawks to get offensive rebounds.
Take Advantage of Turnovers
Monmouth committed 16 turnovers against Georgetown but the Hoyas were unable to take advantage of them. Monmouth averages 12 turnovers a game and Rutgers must take any mistakes and convert them into points. At the same time, Rutgers must reduce turnovers from their 15 per game average. Rutgers needs to be diving all over the floor for loose balls today to gain an edge. If Rutgers doesn't bring energy to the game today, they will get run out of the RAC.
Free Throw Line
Monmouth is 2nd in the nation in free throw percentage, averaging 82% from the charity stripe. Rutgers is ranked 244th at 66.5%. Rutgers best defense is to limit the opportunities Monmouth has from the line by not committing unnecessary fouls. With Rutgers down to eight scholarship players and only two true big men in Lewis and Foreman, they must stay out of foul trouble. On the other end, Rutgers must take advantage of any free throw opportunities they have. Williams, Sanders and Daniels are all averaging 70% or better from the line. They need to drive to the basket and get to the line as often as possible.
Rutgers is 4-6 and in danger of having a losing record in non-conference play. They have three key contributors out with injury and they had a week off to think about their 34 point loss to George Washington. This game was moved to BTN because of Monmouth's great start to their season, not because of Rutgers. The RAC will likely have a lot of Monmouth fans, in addition to the tortured RU faithful that attend. This team needs to play with more pride and passion than they have at any point this season. If they get blown out to Monmouth, it will be embarrassing and mark the low point in Eddie Jordan's tenure. How much heart and guts Rutgers plays with today is a major question to be answered.