Corey Sanders: Sanders is going to be the most talked about player in this game and he wasn’t on the court for most of it. First off, Steve Pikiell sat Sanders for the first ten or so minutes of the game for disciplinary reasons (he missed his flight back from Florida and therefore missed a practice). Ultimately, this is a big picture move, as Pikiell is trying to send a message to the team—something that could pay off down the road. But later in the game, as Rutgers got back in it, the point guard landed badly on his ankle. The tweak looked bad and Rutgers fans are hoping it’s a sprain and not a break. A broken ankle could be the difference between 5-13 and 2-14 this season.
Defensive Effort: As I said on Twitter, Jay Young not getting the Stony Brook job could be the best thing to happen to Rutgers. The effort on the defensive end was just incredible for most of the game. Rutgers contested nearly everything. They forced turnovers and they frustrated the Badgers. When Rutgers cut it to 9 in the second half, it was fueled on defense.
Offense: Man could this team use a shooter or two. If they had another two shooters, Rutgers could have won this game and the Seton Hall game. Pikiell and crew need to keep pounding the pavement for more offense. But there will be one game where the shots fall and Rutgers catches someone off guard. They won’t go 0 for the Big Ten.
Penn State is a Must Win: Northwestern went into Penn State and blew them out. That means the Nittany Lions are beatable, but they’ll also be focused on Sunday. Rutgers needs to match that effort and defend the three. Of course, the status of Sanders is key. If he’s healthy and ready to go, Rutgers will be in good shape. If he’s not, strap in... it could be an even longer year than expected.