Rutgers (5-3) At Fordham (6-2)
How To Watch, Listen, News & Notes
Where: Rose Hill Gymnasium in Bronx, New York (Buy tickets here)
Tip-off: Saturday, December 8th at 2:30 p.m. ET
TV: CBS Sports Network - Dave Ryan & Bob Wenzel
Stream: CBS Sports Network (cable provider sign-in required)
Radio: Rutgers IMG Sports Network - WCTC 1450 AM/WOR 710 AM - Jerry Recco & Joe Boylan
KenPom Rankings: Rutgers #99; Fordham #239
(Rutgers has moved up 7 spots since the loss to #11 Wisconsin)
KenPom Prediction: Rutgers 64 Fordham 59; Rutgers has an 68% chance to win.
Vegas Line: Rutgers -7.5
Series History: Tied at 27 wins apiece, with Rutgers winning last season’s meeting 75-63.
Notes: Rose Hill Gymnasium is the oldest on campus venue in Division I basketball. Rutgers is ranked 21st in Division I in scoring defense, allowing just 60.8 ppg, is 33rd in blocked shots with 5.1 ppg and 72nd in field goal percentage defense at 40.0%.
Steve Pikiell on the matchup:
“Rose Hill is a unique venue. An old, traditional setting for a basketball game. The fans are right on the court, it’s loud. Both teams are tough. Fordham is well coached, they have talented young guys, they shoot the three as well as anybody. They are off to a really good start at 6-2. We’re still figuring our team and their roles out, but these guys are doing more and more good things on the floor. We hope to continue our good momentum and play 40 minutes of good basketball.”
Head coach Jeff Neubauer is in his fourth season and has a 45-54 record so far. The Rams are coming off a double overtime defeat on Tuesday night to previously winless Maine by the score of 75-68. They are a perimeter oriented team that averages 27 attempts from behind the arc per game, making 10 per contest, which leads the Atlantic 10 conference.
5’10” Freshman guard Nick Honor leads Fordham with 17.5 points per game on 44.1% shooting, while adding 2.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.3 steals. Fellow freshman and backcourt mate Jalen Cobb compliments him with 11.3 points, 2.5 assists, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per contest. Antwon Portley is producing 10.6 points, 3.9 assists, and 3.4 rebounds per game, while senior big man Jess Bunting paces the frontcourt with 7.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per contest.
Fordham has five players who are gunners from long range: Ty Perry (16-36 / 44.4%); Antwon Portley (18-49 / 36.7%); Ivan Raut (11-30 / 36.7%); Jalen Cobb (10-29 / 34.5%); Nick Honor (17-55 / 30.9%).
The Rams average 75.0 points per game and have an adjusted offensive efficiency rating of 97.2, which ranks only 287th in Division I. They are about average defensively, ranking 173rd with with a rating of 103.3. They lean heavily on their starters and are undefeated at home this season (5-0)
Keys To Victory
Pound The Glass
Rutgers needs to assert their presence inside the paint by controlling the glass. The past two seasons, the Scarlet Knights owned a +29 rebounding margin in the win over Fordham in 2017 and +18 in last year’s victory. There is no reason Rutgers can’t dominate once again and it will lead to second chance scoring opportunities on the offensive end as well. They need to make Fordham work for every basket and limit second shots on possessions. The Rams can score but they aren’t a highly efficient offense, so controlling the glass will go along way to slowing them down on the scoreboard.
Get Issa Thiam Involved
After taking just four shots in the past two games, Rutgers needs to make a point to get junior wing Issa Thiam more involved offensively. He has the highest offensive rating aside from Shaq Doorson on the team, which was the case last season as well. Issa is an efficient player and 42.4% from three-point range on 33 attempts. He made at least one shot from behind the arc in every game this season, except against Wisconsin, when he didn’t attempt one. Rutgers isn’t going to win many Big Ten games with just Geo Baker, Eugene Omoruyi, and Peter Kiss doing the bulk of the scoring and he is their next best option to post double digit points. Issa’s biggest fault in my opinion is that he is too unselfish on offense and needs to attack off the dribble more. Hopefully, Baker will look to get him more involved on Saturday to get Issa back into rhythm because they’ll need his A game against Seton Hall next weekend.
Defend The Three
Fordham hasn’t met a three-point attempt they don’t like all season and Rutgers needs to prevent open looks from behind the arc. The easiest way for the home team to gain some momentum and go on a run is to get hot from three. The Scarlet Knights can’t fall asleep on the perimeter and contest every shot. On the flip side, Rutgers would benefit by coming close to their own average of made three-pointers per game (8.4) in order to keep it close from behind the arc against the prolific Rams. However, they can’t settle for jump shots and need to pass the ball often in the halfcourt to work for the high percentage look.
Sweep The Leg
Rutgers is playing its third road game in 11 days and while this is a short trip, this has the potential to be the most challenging mentally. It’s an afternoon game in front of the smallest crowd they’ll likely see all season. It’s also a game Rutgers is the favorite and against a team they’ve beaten by double digits the past two seasons. Although it’s a week away still, the next opponent on the schedule is Seton Hall. This all comes after arguably the toughest three game stretch of the season. For all of these reasons, the starters for Rutgers need to set the tone from the opening tip and assert immediate control in this game. It would also benefit the young bench to get some quality minutes in this game down the stretch to gain some experience, so the quicker Rutgers can put the score out of reach the better. A grind it out slugfest would make this a dangerous game and sweating out the last ten minutes would not be what they want to happen. Avoiding an upset loss in non-conference play is a must if this team wants to carry momentum into the Seton Hall matchup.
.@RutgersMBB is trying to get back to the Big Dance. Bob Wenzel led them there in '89 and '91, and he discussed the program's progress on our Take Ten Podcast.— Rutgers On BTN (@RutgersOnBTN) December 6, 2018
BTN x @NorthwesternSPS - https://t.co/6CMYISNIDU - Tune in