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Rutgers Women's Basketball: Big Ten Tournament Preview

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

After an impressive victory against Michigan in their regular season finale, the #10 Scarlet Knights are headed to Indianapolis to face off against the #7 Nebraska Huskers in the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday at 6:30 PM EST. This will be the third matchup of the season for the two schools, as they split the previous two games. Should Rutgers (17-13 overall record) beat Nebraska (18-11) on Thursday, they would advance to face #2 seed Ohio State in the quarterfinals. The Scarlet Knights still have the opportunity for an NCAA Tournament bid, but it is expected they will need to make a run in the B1G Tournament to avoid missing out on March Madness for the third time in four seasons.

About Nebraska

The Nebraska Huskers come into the Tournament led by the B1G Freshman of the Year, Jessica Shepard. She comes into the contest averaging nearly 20 PPG and 9 RPG, numbers that are good enough for seventh in the Big Ten in scoring and fifth in rebounding. Nebraska, who recorded a 9-9 record in Big Ten play, should be excited to take part in the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis: Nebraska won the Tournament last time it was played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in 2014.

The x-factor in stopping Shepard and the Huskers offense will be Rachel Hollivay, Rutgers' strong inside presence and shot blocker extraordinaire. Averaging about 3.5 blocks per game, Hollivay is the anchor for the Scarlet Knights defense. Coach C. Vivian Stringer made a point in saying that Rutgers needs to focus on defense and the basics of the game for success in the Tournament, a statement no doubt with Hollivay in mind.

C. Vivian Stringer of @RutgersWBB says the #ScarletKnights look to focus on defense and get back to the basics moving into the #B1GTourney.

— B1G Women's Hoops (@B1Gwbball) February 29, 2016

On the other side of the ball, Rutgers fans can count on strong offense performances by Kahleah Copper and Tyler Scaife. This dynamic duo has recorded twenty point or more efforts in the same game four times this season, all of which led Rutgers to victories. With Copper and Scaife leading the charge, Rutgers needs to come out aggressive in order to avoid falling behind early, an issue that has arisen many times this season. If they are able to do that, I think they will be able to pull out a close victory here: RU 67-62