Rutgers (5-2) At Wisconsin (7-1)
How To Watch, Listen, News & Notes
Where: The Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin
Tip-off: Monday, December 3rd at 8:00 p.m. ET
TV: BTN - Brian Anderson & Stephen Bardo
Stream: BTN2GO (free)
Radio: Rutgers IMG Sports Network - WCTC 1450 AM/WOR 710 AM/Sirius 108/XM 196 - Jerry Recco & Joe Boylan; WRSU 88.7 FM - Sam Marsdale & Matt Howe
KenPom Rankings: Rutgers #106; Wisconsin #10
(Rutgers moved back 3 spots since the loss to #11 Michigan State)
KenPom Prediction: Wisconsin 69 Rutgers 55; Rutgers has an 10% chance to win.
Vegas Line: Wisconsin - 13.5
Series History: Wisconsin leads all-time 6-2, but Rutgers won the last meeting 64-60 last January at the RAC.
Game 7 recap & four thoughts
Notes: Rutgers last won a road game against a ranked opponent January 26, 2008 against #13 Pittsburgh. The Scarlet Knights rank 19th nationally in scoring defense (59.6), 19th in blocked shots (5.6) and 38th in FG% defense (38.3).
Head coach Greg Gard is 64-37 in his fourth season in charge of the Badgers and they are off to a strong start this season. They own five top 100 wins already this season over Xavier, Stanford, Oklahoma, N.C. State, and Iowa, with their only loss coming against national title contender Virginia.
They are led by 6’10” senior and preseason All-American, Ethan Happ, who is averaging 17.4 points, 11.6 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.9 blocks per game. The backcourt is led by D’Mitrick Trice and Brad Davison. Trice is leading the Big Ten in three-point shooting (28-48 for 58.3%) and is tied with Happ with 17.4 points per game, as well as adding 3.7 boards, 2.8 assists, and 1.0 steal. Davison is one of the best free throw shooters in the nation (19 of 21 for 90.5%) ad averages 9.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.6 assists.
Role players include big man Nate Reuvers (6.4 points, 2.3 blocks, 2.1 rebounds), Brevin Pritzl (6.1 points), Kobe King (5.8 points, 2.3 rebounds) and Khalil Iverson (5.3 points, 5.4 boards).
Wisconsin is an excellent shooting team (47.9% FG, 72.5% FT, 42.1% 3-pt FG) and are committing just 9 turnovers per game. They are balanced on both ends of the floor, ranking in the top 20 in Division I of both offensive and defensive adjust efficiency ratings of KenPom.
Keys To Victory
Defend The Three
Wisconsin is always a strong three-point shooting team and this year is no exception. Trice has been unconscious and they have six players who can connect from deep on a regular basis. Rutgers will be tired playing its third game in six days, including the second on the road. Being a step slow and allowing Wisconsin to find open looks beyond the arc would be flirting with disaster, so defending every shot is key. Wisconsin is more of a halfcourt team, but Rutgers still needs to find the shooters in transition when they do run.
Pound The Glass
Rutgers has the potential to win the battle of the boards this game and Wisconsin is not a proficient offensive rebounding team (269th). It will take a group effort and Rutgers has a distinct size advantage on the perimeter, so the backcourt and wings could have success on the glass. Taking advantage of second chance scoring opportunities would go along way in keeping this one close and give Rutgers a punchers chance in this game.
Attack The Rim
The lack of a true point guard, despite Baker’s best efforts, has limited the amount of penetration that Rutgers has gotten in its halfcourt offense this season. Corey Sanders was elite at attacking the rim and getting there in traffic. It’s hurt this team and they force too many three-pointers at times. Doing that tonight on the road and with likely tired legs would be a mistake and could put them in a hole that’s unrecoverable. They need to make a concerted effort to get into the paint and attack the rim. The mid-range jumper could work as well and something Rutgers should do more of overall.
Win Turnover Battle
Wisconsin has the 7th best turnover rate in the country on offense, giving it up just 13.8% of its possessions. On the flip side, they don’t turn their opponents over that often, ranking 247th with a rate of 17.6%. That’s a good thing for Rutgers, who are struggling to take care of the basketball (251st in turnover rate on offense) and will need to do a much better job of not turning it over in this game. Passes need to be crisper and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw more handoff’s in the halfcourt in this game, a strategy Pikiell utilized the previous two seasons to minimize turnovers. McConnell spelling Baker effectively off the bench once again would help as well.
Road Warrior Mentality
Rutgers has been very bad on the road in Big Ten play since joining the league in the 2014-2015 season. This team shockingly won its first road game against a quality ACC opponent, so perhaps that could help this team form an identity we haven’t seen play out previously. I think this team is mentally tough and tonight is a chance to prove it. Establishing rhythm in the halfcourt offense and not settling for long jump shots is key in Rutgers starting strong, as well as committing defensively from the opening tip. Playing a third tough opponent in just six days will be a huge challenge and Wisconsin isn’t the type of team that will beat itself with mistakes. Rutgers needs to take it to them from the start and play smart and together to give themselves a chance. If they can stay within single digits by the midway mark of the second half, their confidence will have grown and they’ll have an opportunity to grind out the upset on the road.
| BY THE NUMBERS— Rutgers Basketball (@RutgersMBB) December 3, 2018
3️⃣1️⃣6️⃣ » Experience ranking, meaning only 37 teams nationally are younger than we are.
1️⃣6️⃣ » # of opponents on our schedule ranked or receiving Top 25 votes.
4️⃣ » Our avg height of 79.1’’ makes us the 4th tallest team in America.
⚔️ #GardenStatement pic.twitter.com/cTaJreZXjc