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Enjoying the Build—4 Thoughts on Minnesota

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More analysis on the opening round win for Rutgers

Rutgers v Minnesota Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Rutgers pulled off a complete victory 65-54 over the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Be sure to check out all the crazy On the Banks coverage today and for the rest of the Big Ten Tournament.

As Corey Goes, So Goes Rutgers: This is no surprise, we saw it all season. Corey Sanders is the best offensive players on Rutgers and without him the offense coughs and sputters like a flooded engine. However, when Corey can get to the hoop and/or his pull-up jumper is falling, the Scarlet Knights usually have a good chance to win. They won last night and that’s because Corey scored 23 points on 9-20 shooting. He was fired up and it paid off for Rutgers.

The Rebounding Was Vintage Pikiell: Rutgers defense for the Golden Gophers into a ton of bad shots and the Scarlet Knights rarely gave them a second chance. The boxing out in this game was fantastic and even Issa Thiam was a force on the boards. Rutgers cleaned up the glass and it gave them a chance to survive if they even had a bad offensive night. Rutgers outrebounded Minnesota 49-28. It wasn’t even close. Combine that with great defense and solid free throw shooting (hats off to Deshawn Freeman’s 7 of 8) and the little things went right for RU.

The Garden Wasn’t Full But it Was Rutgers: Playing on the opening night of a conference tournament is never ideal for a big crowd, but the fans who were there were pro-Rutgers. This is how it should be in New York. Fans are close enough to get to the arena and they did their best to give it a RAC-like feel. The noise may not have thrown off Minnesota but it definitely fired up the Scarlet Knights and helped push them to victory.

Indiana is an Interesting Match-Up: The Hoosiers came to the Piscataway a few weeks ago and caught Rutgers on a night where they were sleeping. The Scarlet Knights were never able to get their offense going and Sanders never got into a rhythm. They play the dreaded pack-line defense (I’m going to be thinking about this strategy in my sleep) and have gotten better this year. They’ve been up and down this season, but Archie Miller is a good coach. Not sure how this one goes tonight, but remember—it’s no longer February. And sometimes—more than madness—there’s magic in March.

Watch our exclusive behind the scenes coverage of Rutgers celebrating and discussing last night’s victory here.