How To Watch & Listen
TV: 1 pm on ESPN2
Radio: Rutgers IMG Radio Network WOR (710 AM) & WCTC (1450 AM); WRSU (88.7 FM); Sirius Radio channel 145; XM Radio channel 195
Deshawn Freeman, Shaq Doorson, and Ibrahima Diallo all remain out indefinitely, leaving Rutgers with just eight scholarship players.
This will be the most talented team Rutgers has faced so far this season, as they open conference play against the Hoosiers. Indiana has an 10-3 record and their best win is against Notre Dame. Indiana have played three common opponents as Rutgers, beating Creighton by 21 points, losing to Wake Forest by 4 points, and beating St. John's by 10 points. They are led by the strong backcourt of senior Yogi Ferrell and sophomore James Blackmon Jr., with the pair combining to average 32 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, and 2 steals per game. They are also excellent shooters, as the pair both average 48% from the field, 85% or better from the free throw line, and 40% or better from three-point range. Overall, Indiana is a great shooting team, as they average 54% from the field and 45% from three-point range. They are scoring an average of 89 points a game. Indiana has struggled with turnovers at times, averaging 15 a game. The only ranked team Indiana has played was #7 Duke, who beat them by 20 points.
Keys to the Game
Defend the Paint & the Glass
Considering Indiana's frontcourt of 6'7" Troy Williams, 6'10" Thomas Bryant, and 6'8" Max Bielfeldt all shoot an average of 58% or better from the field, Rutgers better defend down low. Otherwise, this game will get ugly very quickly. Expect a lot of zone on defense, as Rutgers is undersized and outnumbered down low against Indiana. Rutgers needs to limit second chance points for the Hoosiers, making rebounding on the defensive glass a major key.
Indiana scores an average of 20 points more a game than Rutgers, so let's hope Omari Grier and Corey Sanders can continue their hot shooting from long range. They combined to shoot 9-12 from three-point range Monday against UMass-Lowell. In addition, Rutgers desperately needs Mike Williams to bust out of a prolonged shooting slump. Since Williams hit a combined 8 of 15 from three-point range against St. John's and Central Arkansas, he has struggled mightily from long range, shooting just 7-38 (18%) in his last nine games. After only shooting 24% from three-point range as a freshman, he is still just shooting 27% this season. For Rutgers to have a chance, they need him to catch fire today.
There have been signs the past few games that the eight man rotation is starting to gel together a bit. For Rutgers to have any chance for the upset today, they must have a maximum team effort and play together for the entire 40 minutes. It will be a challenge coming off a game less than 48 hours ago, they need to avoid tired legs. They cannot afford to have any breakdowns for prolonged stretches, or Indiana will take advantage and blow the game wide open. Seniors Greg Lewis, Bishop Daniels, and Omari Grier need to lead on the court. Rutgers will need balanced scoring today as well, with at least four players scoring in double figures in order to keep up with the high scoring Hoosiers. Overall, Rutgers needs to play their best game of the season to win.
Corey Sanders has been playing like a superstar as of late, but today the competition ramps up considerably. He will face the biggest test of his college career against Indiana's dynamic backcourt. Jonathan Laurent shifted to the four spot on Monday and played a heck of a game, scoring 13 points and pulling down 15 rebounds. The 6'6" freshman will be looking up at Indiana's big men, so he will need to bring all of his energy and athleticism down low today. Justin Goode has been solid all season, but has yet to really breakout. He needs to continue to play with poise and maintain his composure. It will be interesting to watch the three freshman in their first Big Ten game. Let's hope they continue an upward climb in their development.