Northwestern head coach Chris Collins had no interest in letting Rutgers hang around in the first half of today's game. He had his team play a 2-3 zone and press Rutgers after every made basket, which there were many, from the opening tip of this game. And it worked to perfection, leading to a 19-4 start just six plus minutes into the game. I am not sure what to call whatever Rutgers was playing when they didn't have the ball, but it certainly wasn't defense. Northwestern had so much open space on the perimeter and rarely a Rutgers defender even within the vicinity of their shooters, leading to a flat out drubbing. The Wildcats shoot the second most three-pointers in the conference but Eddie Jordan felt no need to adjust and paid dearly for it. Northwestern shot 9-13 for a ridiculous 69% from behind the arc in the first half, leading 48-18 at the break.
On offense, Rutgers was outrebounded 26-8 and that was with Ibrahima Diallo playing his first game since mid-December. It didn't matter. There was no execution or strategy, except for each player to chuck it up from wherever, rarely attempting to drive to the rim against the zone. This was truly an embarrassing performance, and this was only the first half. Hence my mood at that point:
Northwestern leads 48-18 at the half. Thanks Rutgers basketball for making a beautiful Saturday afternoon feel like a rainy Monday morning!— On the Banks (@OTB_SBNation) February 27, 2016
It continued right away in the second half, as Rutgers committed 3 turnovers in the first minute and a half of action. Northwestern went on a 19-11 run that was only halted by the first TV timeout of the second frame. That's right Rutgers gave up 19 points in the first 4+ minutes of the second half. It wasn't just bad perimeter defense either, players stood flat footed in the paint giving little effort, as Northwestern looked like comic book superheroes leaping over, around and through them.
Northwestern won 98-59 and shot 17-28 from three-point range for an eye popping 61%. This game was an abomination. Northwestern entered today's game with a 5-10 conference record, and their only win against a winning team in the Big Ten was Wisconsin. They made Rutgers look like a 8th grade middle school team. And with Diallo and Lewis back, Rutgers had eight scholarship players, two more than Tuesday in their 22 point loss to Minnesota. Northwestern came out swinging and Rutgers gave up immediately. We don't expect much right now, but to see this team lay down like they did today is inexcusable.
Rutgers lost the battle of the boards 45-25 and shot just 34% from the field. Jonathan Laurent struggled shooting from the field, shooting just 3-12 for 25%. However, he attacked the rim and shot 11-14 for 79% from the foul line, finishing with 17 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Omari Grier was the only other player to score in double figures, scoring 11 points, hitting on 3-4 shots from behind the arc.
Eddie Jordan's refusal to play zone defense is baffling. There are zero adjustments made from game to game, throwing his team into the fire with no hope. As I said in the game preview, we know Northwestern shoots a ton of three's, but there was no effort to defend against their strength.
Northwestern’s 17 3-pointers are its most ever in a B1G game and its third-most ever in a game. Record is 20 on two occasions. #B1GCats— NU Men's Basketball (@NUMensBball) February 27, 2016
Rutgers just is not interested in guarding anyone. pic.twitter.com/4nL9KcQwVD— Big Ten Geeks (@bigtengeeks) February 27, 2016
This team looks woefully unprepared in playing against a pressing team and against a zone defense. Yes, point guard Corey Sanders was not playing, but Omari Grier, Bishop Daniels, Mike Williams, and Justin Goode were all three-star recruits. There is no excuse for game in and game out for a team to have no clue on how to attack a zone defense.
This game was so bad that many Big Ten writers took notice and commented on twitter. Here are a few instant classics.
Rutgers refusal to guard the three point line at all this season has been remarkable.— Jesse David Collins (@jesseinomaha) February 27, 2016
Do you know how hard it is to be a sub-300 power team? It's impossible, but Rutgers is somehow finding a way— Josh Newman (@Joshua_Newman) February 27, 2016
Live look at Rutgers today: pic.twitter.com/P61tRyEsFL— BT Powerhouse (@BTpowerhouse) February 27, 2016
Rutgers basketball is worse than the vast majority of the world's infectious diseases.— Rodger Sherman (@rodger_sherman) February 27, 2016
Rutgers is now 0-16 in the Big Ten and has lost 31 conference games in a row. They return home and while Corey Sanders will be back from suspension, the prospect of #6 Michigan State coming to the RAC on Wednesday is beyond frightening. Thankfully, there is end in sight, as the 1st round game of the Big Ten tournament is March 9th. That is just ten days away and that is truly the only good news to come from today. Because that will be the end of the worst season from a major college basketball team in history. Pat Hobbs will be on the clock once the buzzer sounds on the 2015-2016 season, and that is our only hope as of now. It could be worse, Julie Hermann could still be the athletic director. In Hobbs We Trust!