How To Watch & Listen
#14 Rutgers (14-18; 3-15) vs. #6 Indiana (16-14; 9-9)
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York City
Tip-off: Thursday, March 1st at approximately 9:00 p.m. ET
TV: BTN - Kevin Kugler, Stephen Bardo and Mike Hall
Radio: WCTC 1450 AM, WOR 710 AM, Sirius/XM 81 - Jerry Recco & Joe Boylan; WRSU 88.7 FM
KenPom Rankings: Rutgers #151; Indiana #73
(Note: Rutgers improved 10 spots after the 11 point win over Minnesota)
KenPom Prediction: Indiana 65 Rutgers 59; Rutgers given a 30% chance to win
Vegas Line: Indiana - 7.5
Series History: Indiana leads the all-time series 6-0, including five wins as Big Ten foes and a 65-43 win in February.
SB Nation Indiana site: Crimson Quarry
The Hoosiers had won four straight, but then lost their last two regular season games to Nebraska and Ohio State. During the Big Ten regular season, they were 10th in offensive efficiency and 4th in defensive efficiency during the Big Ten regular season. They also had the 4th fastest tempo on offense. In addition, they held the 5th highest free throw rate but were last in free throw percentage. The Hoosiers had the 2nd best turnover and steal rate on defense, as well as the 4th best two-point defense.
Here are per game statistical averages for key players on Indiana:
6’8” junior forward Juwan Morgan - 16.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 1.4 assists, 1.2 steals
6’3” senior guard Robert Johnson - 14.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists
6’3” sophomore guard Devonte Green - 7.6 points, 2.8 assists, 2.1 rebounds
6’1” senior guard Josh Newkirk - 7.1 points, 2.8 assists, 2.1 rebounds
6’7” freshman forward Justin Smith - 6.5 points, 3.2 rebounds
6’4” freshman guard Aljami Durham - 4.6 points, 1.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists
6’7” senior forward Collin Hartman - 4.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.0 assists
6’6” senior forward Freddie McSwain Jr. - 4.1 points, 4.5 rebounds
6’6” junior guard Zach McRoberts - 2.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 1.2 assists
Know Your Three-Point Shooters:
Robert Johnson - 63 of 167 for 37.7%
Devonte Green - 32 of 93 for 34.4%
Juwan Morgan - 16 of 52 for 30.8%
Josh Newkirk - 28 of 92 for 30.4%
Aljami Durham - 14 of 49 for 28.6%
Collin Hartman - 16 of 33 for 25.4%
During the Big Ten regular season, Rutgers was ranked 14th in offensive efficiency and 9th in defensive efficiency per KenPom.....Rutgers was 9th or worse in every offensive category in league competition measured by KenPom, with the exception of having the 4th best offensive rebounding rate in the conference......Defensively, the strength of Rutgers is forcing mistakes by their opponent, as they owned both the 3rd best steal rate and turnover rate in Big Ten play.
Watch Recap Of Minnesota Win & Keys To Indiana
Keys To Victory
The blueprint for Rutgers to win against Big Ten competition was on full display on Wednesday night against Minnesota. Dominate the boards (+21 rebounding margin) and second chance points off of offensive rebounds (17-2 edge). Play great defense (held Minnesota to 34.6% from the field & 3 of 19 from three-point range). Get multiple contributions from role players, which they got from Shaq Doorson and Issa Thiam. Have core guys play well, which Mike Williams, Deshawn Freeman and Eugene Omoruyi did. Lastly, have Corey Sanders play the starring role as unstoppable playmaker. It all came together under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden with the entire Big Ten watching.
It was a satisfying victory, but how realistic is it for Rutgers to come up with a similar effort tonight against Indiana? The big question is can Rutgers avoid a disastrous follow up in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament, which they were unable to do last season against Northwestern. Here are some thoughts from coach Pikiell and the players:
Steve Pikiell: “I thought they did a really good job. We gave them a couple of days to rest their bodies because we’ve been a little banged up. I thought they were really locked in from the get go with the scouting reports and the practices that we had. It’s been a tough year for a lot of reasons. We’ve had every injury. We’ve had every obstacle. We started off playing five games against ranked teams. We had the hardest schedule in the league. We were one game out of 11th place. One more win would have gotten us there. Tonight we showed that we are capable of beating some good basketball teams. I’m proud of our guys. Everyone chipped in and that’s what we need, a team effort. Obviously Corey had a big night, but everyone else has to help to.”
“I’m not going to talk about it (Northwestern loss in 2nd round last season). It’s a new year. We started a new season the other day. As soon as the Illinois game ended, I said to them nobody cares if your 1 or 14. You have to win and if you do, you keep playing. I’ve played in these leagues that I’ve had 18 or 19 game win streaks during the regular season and it didn’t matter. You have to win your conference tournament. This is a league that fortunately if you have a great season, you are probably getting an at-large bid. If you don’t, you still have a chance to go with the conference tournament. It gives you two chances to get in and that’s all we have really talked about. I believe in this team and you saw today that if we play defense the way we did and rebound like we did, we’ll hang around. We hung around and then we made some plays. It was great for their confidence and let’s play tomorrow.”
Eugene Omoruyi: “As soon as we got off the court, we tried our hardest not to celebrate. Just stick to the game plan and focus on the next game. We’ve accomplished our first goal, just to keep accomplishing the rest of our goals to get to the final.”
Mike Williams : “Me being one of the older guys, trying to bring everybody under my wing and tell everybody ‘look, last year, we won the first game but then we got destroyed the second game. Nothing’s handed to us. We have to go out there and get it.”
Corey Sanders: “We just got to stay focused and execute our gameplan, whatever coach has going on. We just have to play smart. When we play smart basketball and we play conservative and we play great defense, we’re in a lot of games so if we do that, I expect us to be in this game too.”
Shaq Doorson: “Especially for the people that were already there last year, it’s good to let everybody know it’s not that easy. Last year, Northwestern started out hot and we didn’t have an answer for it. This time, we have to be more composed and use our veteran leadership to help the younger kids.”
This team was much more subdued after last night’s triumph and sounded more experienced in how to handle things. They give the impression winning one game was not the goal here and they want to continue to play the role of spoiler tonight against Big Ten blue blood, Indiana. Defense rebounding, sharing the basketball on offense, playing together on defense, and look to capitalize on mistakes in transition and limit their own. It’s not a complicated game plan, but far easier said than done.
In The Bonus
I’ve covered this program up close for the past two years and I’ve never seen them as confident as a group as they were last night. Part of the difference in last year’s win over Ohio State was that they were so jubilant because it was not even fully expected in their own eyes. This team expected to win last night. The calendar has turned to March and weird, unpredictable things can happen in this month, as college basketball has shown us year after year. The last time Rutgers played Indiana, it was 48 hours after an emotional loss to Purdue that they gave everything they had in a two point defeat that would have been the biggest upset in high major conference play this season. Mike Williams and Eugene Omoruyi were both out with injuries. Jake Dadika, Souf Mensah, Matt Bullock and Luke Nathan played a combined 29 minutes in the game. No disrespect to any of them, but having Williams and Omoruyi take those minutes and then some tonight should give every Rutgers fan hope that this team will play the Hoosiers much tougher this time around. The crowd was great last night and hopefully the scarlet faithful will return even stronger tonight. After almost predicting the exact score of last night’s game (I predicted 65-58 when the final was 65-54), I’ll double down and pick another upset victory for the Scarlet Knights at the Garden.
Rutgers 62 Indiana 60
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