Drexel (2-1) At Rutgers (2-0)
How To Watch, Listen, News & Notes
Where: The RAC in Piscataway, NJ (capacity: 8,000)
Tip-off: Wednesday, November 13th at approximately 8:00 p.m. ET
Promotions: Wednesday’s doubleheader is Military Appreciation Day, with attending fans receiving military appreciation t-shirts. The Rutgers women’s team hosts Niagara at 6 p.m. The men’s game begins 30 minutes after the conclusion of the women’s game.
Stream: BTN Plus (Lou Brogno, play-by-play, Ralph Bednarczyk, analyst)
Radio: Live Listen - Rutgers Sports Properties Radio Network (WCTC 1450 AM/WOR 710 AM/SiriusXM 973; Jerry Recco & Joe Boylan); WRSU 88.7 FM (Troy DeSavino & Chris Tsakonas)
KenPom Rankings: Rutgers 67th; Drexel 242nd; Rutgers moved up 8 spots since Sunday’s win over Niagara.
KenPom Prediction: Rutgers 79 Drexel 63; Rutgers has a 93% chance to win
Vegas Line: Rutgers -16.5
Series History: Rutgers leads the series all-time 15-2, including a 95-66 victory last season.
SB Nation Bryant site: Mid Major Madness
For all of our preseason coverage, click here.
Head coach Zach Spiker is in his fourth year at the helm and the Dragons are off to a solid start this season. They lost by 8 points to Temple, but have won back to back games against Niagara by 8 points and Abilene Christian by three points on a last second shot in overtime on Sunday.
They are led by 6’8” junior forward James Butler, who has posted two double double’s already this season and is averaging 14.0 points and 14.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.7 blocks per game while shooting 68.0% from the floor. 6’6” senior wing Zach Walton is averaging 12.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.0 assist per contest. 6’2” sophomore point guard Camren Wynter is averaging 10.0 points, 7.0 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game. 6’9” freshman T.J. Bickerstaff is averaging 10.0 points and 5.3 rebounds. 5’11” sophomore guard Matey Juric does a little bit of everything, averaging 8.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 2.7 steals.
Drexel likes to shoot from behind the arc and as a team have made 22 of 68 attempts for 32.4% through three games this season. Wynter has made 3 of 7 (42.9%), Juric has made 4 of 10 (40%), 6’6” freshman wing Mate Okros is 5 of 13 (38.5%) and Walton is 3 of 12 (25%).
All eleven scholarship players are healthy to begin the season.
Notes: Rutgers looks to start the season 3-0 for the third time in four years under head coach Steve Pikiell. The Scarlet Knights lead the Big Ten in defensive rebounds per game (31.0), scoring defense (55.0), turnover margin (7.0) and turnovers forced (19.0).
Keys To Victory
Crash the boards
Drexel averages 42 rebounds per game so far this season and Butler has been a force inside. Myles Johnson and Shaq Carter have been relatively quiet through the first two games, but need to assert themselves in this game. In addition, Pikiell has preached all hands on deck when it comes to crashing the boards and the best way to keep a pesky team like Drexel at a comfortable distance on the scoreboard is to limit second chance scoring opportunities.
Attack the Basket
Rutgers did a much better job against Niagara of not settling for jump shots and three-pointers, making it a priority to get to the rim. That should be the mindset tonight as well and forcing Butler to guard in the paint could lead to him getting into in foul trouble. The Scarlet Knights have a size advantage and are more athletic, so they need to exploit those things and force Drexel to try and stop them in the interior.
Wearing Drexel down will be key and Rutgers clearly has the deeper bench. Akwasi Yeboah, Paul Mulcahy, and Jacob Young have all made an impact in the early going and need to provide a spark tonight as well. Pikiell will continue to tinker with different lineup combinations and with this team continuing to push the pace in transition, these three need to be consistent contributors this season.
Pressure the ball defensively
Creating havoc on the defensive end is something Rutgers wants to do and needs to take advantage of as Drexel is averaging 20 turnovers per game. Expect to see multiple defensive looks and full to three quarters court pressure at times as well. Rutgers needs to use their length to disrupt passing lanes and pressure the ball handlers as much as possible. Getting easy transition baskets off of turnovers is something that can make this game a blowout.
It was a great response from game one to game two, but Rutgers needs to continue to improve and Drexel poses a threat in that they will look to shoot from three-point range early and often. Not quite as much as Bryant, but we saw what can happen when an opponent gets into a rhythm behind the arc. Rutgers needs to contest every perimeter shot and not let Drexel get any confidence with sustained scoring runs.
Appropriate Music Selection
Last season, I started adding a live performance from some of my favorite bands and I’m crazy enough to attempt it for every game preview this season. For the third game of the season, I’m featuring Paul McCartney playing Helter Skelter live in 2004. I love this song and although there are great covers of this tune, McCartney wrote it himself when he was with the Beatles. Rutgers needs to bring this type of defensive attitude in this game. Let’s go.