First off, let's all bow our heads and enjoy the greatness that has been Myles Mack. Today, Jerry Carino catalogued how good Mack has been during his time On the Banks. Add to the fact that he, Malick Kone and Kadeem Jack stayed during the MIke Rice saga and beyond... they are true Scarlet Knights.
Now, Rutgers is in the midwest, playing their second consecutive road game. Tomorrow night at 9:30 on BTN.
1. What does Rutgers have left? They gave it their all against Indiana--including a ridiculous game by Mack--and still came up short against Indiana. The Illini are coming off a last second win against Penn State, and are feeding off of their momentum. Does Rutgers have one more push in them?
2. Can the Scarlet Knights take advantage of Illinois personnel problems? Former Seton Hall player Aaron Cosby and leading Illini scorer Rayvonte Rice are suspended indefinitely and won't be back for tomorrow night's game. Rutgers is 1-1 in conference against teams without their best player. Rutgers has to take advantage of the hole in the Illinois line-up.
3. Has Junior Etou turned a corner? Etou found his game against the Hoosiers, and needs to build on that. When Junior cuts to the hoop hard, Rutgers' guards can find him and get him the ball for dunks an lay-ups. It also gives him more confidence in his three point shot. This is the Junior Etou Rutgers needs to have for the rest of the year if they want to upset some teams.
4. Can Rutgers contend with a zone? According to today's Big Ten Conference Call, Illinois plays a lot of zone. Rutgers has struggled when teams have forced the Scarlet Knights to win with the outside shot and that's what a zone is often designed to do. That means Rutgers may have to win from outside in, finding Kadeem Jack in the seams.
5. Will Rutgers get a road win? This was the Scarlet Knights' bugaboo last year, only defeating a down South Florida team on the road. In fact, winning on the road has always been incredibly difficult for Rutgers. Getting a road win against a good team is another sign the Scarlet Knights are moving forward. If Rutgers can steal one tomorrow, maybe they can start turning the momentum around again. Not to say Illinois is ripe for the picking, but they are definitely wounded and dealing with some personnel issues. This is a team Rutgers could surprise.