Eastern Michigan (4-1) At Rutgers (2-1)
How To Watch, Listen, News & Notes
Where: The RAC in Piscataway, New Jersey
Tip-off: Monday, November 19th at 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: Big Ten Network - Jason Horowitz & Jon Crispin
Buy Tickets here
Radio: Rutgers IMG Sports Network of WCTC 1450 AM/WOR 710 AM, XM 380 - Jerry Recco & Joe Boylan; WRSU 88.7 FM - Stephen Nelson & Brant Wolff
KenPom Rankings: Rutgers #136; Eastern Michigan #125
(Rutgers back 18 spots after loss to St. John’s)
KenPom Prediction: Rutgers 68 Eastern Michigan 65; Rutgers has an 60% chance to win.
Vegas Line: Opened Rutgers -4.5; now -6.5 (1 hr pre-tip)
Series History: Eastern Michigan leads 1-0 all-time with a 74-71 victory on December 9th, 1995, as that team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament after upsetting Duke in the first round.
Notes: Both teams have beaten Drexel this season. EMU won 66-62 while Rutgers defeated the Dragons 95-66. According to KenPom, EMU has the 43rd most experienced roster in Division I, while Rutgers is 310th.
About Eastern Michigan
The Eagles are coached by Rob Murphy, who was an assistant coach at Syracuse from 2004-2011 before becoming the head coach at Eastern Michigan. He has had three twenty-win seasons in eight years at the helm, including last year’s 22 win campaign. Their best win so far this season is an 18 point victory over Boston University, who Rutgers plays the day after Thanksgiving. They are a veteran team, with three seniors, two juniors and two sophomores making up their top seven players in the rotation. EMU was picked as the favorites to win the MAC West division title in the league’s preseason poll.
Eastern Michigan is shooting 46.4% from the floor, but just 28.2% from three-point range as a team. They are averaging 12 assists, 9 steals and 6 blocks per contest, while grabbing an average of 41 boards as well. Defensively, they play some zone, which should be expected from a disciple of Jim Boeheim.
Individual Stats Through Five Games
Paul Jackson is a 6’2” senior guard who has averaged 15.5 points, 5.0 assists, and 2.8 rebounds.
Damari Paris complements the backcourt adding 8.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.0 steals
6’11” Senegalese center Boubacar Toure has posted 10.8 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks.
James Thompson IV plays alongside Toure and the 6 ‘10” center averages 7.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks.
6’9” senior forward Elijah Minnie averages 6.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.3 steals.
Kevin McAdoo, a 6’2” sophomore guard, averages 9.7 points, 1.3 steals and 1.0 assist in just 14.3 minutes per contest.
Ty Groce is a 6’7” sophomore wing that’s versatile, averaging 4.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.5 steals.
Keys To Victory
Win Turnover Battle
Eastern Michigan can be dangerous defensively, as they are ranked 50th in steal percentage. However, they are prone to turnovers as well and have a steal percentage of 313th on the offensive end. Rutgers has been a little worse than average on both ends of steal percentage, coming 200th offensively and 224th in takeaways. However, the Scarlet Knights are 67th in defensive turnover percentage and while a product of that is partly the inferior competition in the first two games, they need to continue to take advantage of any takeaways they do get by looking to run in transition. Taking care of the basketball will be key as well, as Rutgers will face a different type of defense than they’ve faced yet this season.
Find Holes In The Zone
EMU will likely play a 2-3 zone for a good portion of the game, so it will be a test for the Rutgers offense. They’ll need to share the basketball in the halfcourt, as the visitors will try to force the offense to start higher than usual. The Scarlet Knights can’t allow the zone to push them too far out on the perimeter and force long jump shots. They need to find the gaps in the zone and attack them. Efficient passing is huge in this game and I expect Shaq Doorson and Myles Johnson to be parked at the free throw line in the middle of the zone. They have the height to be big targets and especially with Johnson, the passing ability to find open teammates. Rutgers will look to penetrate the zone to find open shooters and also find cutters along the baseline for high percentage looks at the basket. Expect Eugene Omoruyi, as well as athletic newcomers Ron Harper Jr. and Montez Mathis looking to attack open space at the back of the zone.
Rutgers has been solid on the offensive glass entering this game, ranked 28th in offensive rebounding percentage and EMU is ranked 286th in defending it. If the Scarlet Knights can dominate second chance points, it would give them a much needed advantage. It’s harder to rebound while defending in a zone, so Rutgers needs to find the gaps to get to the rim for rebounding opportunities when shots are taken. On the flip side, Rutgers needs to limit EMU on the glass and limit easy baskets in this game.
Make Free Throws
Rutgers has made just 36 of 68 attempts from the free throw line this season, which is just 54.4%. They can’t afford to continue shooting at such a poor clip from the charity stripe if they want to win close games and tonight should be that type of contest. Geo Baker, Eugene Omoruyi, and Peter Kiss have made a combined 19 of 25 attempts (76%), so the more those three can get to the line the better. The newcomers have struggled and hopefully now in game four, they will find their sea legs and relax more from the line.
Play With Short Memory
Rutgers can’t let Friday’s loss affect its performance in this game. They are playing against a veteran team that has enough talent to beat them, so bouncing back will take a short memory of the poor performance against St. John’s. They’ll need complete focus in this game and can’t afford any letdowns for extended periods of time. This is an opportunity to pickup a quality non-conference win against a solid mid-major team, which would boost the confidence of the inexperienced roster of Rutgers and help them move on from Friday. If they come out flat and disoriented against the zone defense of EMU, it could make for a long night.
In The Bonus
The RAC won’t be as full as Friday night and it’s a holiday week, but hopefully there will be a solid turnout for this game. It’s a big game for Rutgers and this team’s development, so they’ll need the home crowd to help them. This is a pivotal game in the season and certainly a measuring stick for where this team is early on. St. John’s made it clear that Rutgers has a lot to learn and hopefully they can pick themselves up and take a step forward against a veteran Eastern Michigan team. It won’t be easy and how Rutgers responds to adversity will be the biggest test in this game.