Bryant (0-1) At Rutgers (0-0)
How To Watch, Listen, News & Notes
Where: The RAC in Piscataway, NJ
Tip-off: Thursday, November 7th at 7:00 p.m. ET
Promotions: The game is designated as Season Ticket Holder Appreciation Knight with #HeadbandHighlights as the designated hashtag. The first 5,000 fans will receive a headband and team poster.
TV: BTN - Jason Horowitz and Bob Wenzel
Stream: Fox Sports App
Radio: Live Listen - Rutgers Sports Properties Radio Network (WCTC 1450 AM/WOR 710 AM/XM 372; Jerry Recco & Joe Boylan); WRSU 88.7 FM (Justin Sontupe & Corey Jason)
KenPom Rankings: Rutgers 63rd; Bryant 320th
KenPom Prediction: Rutgers 82 Bryant 60; Rutgers has a 98% chance to win
Vegas Line: Rutgers -20.5
Series History: Rutgers leads 2-0 all-time and won the last meeting 83-54 on November 21, 2017
SB Nation Bryant site: Mid Major Madness
For all of our preseason coverage, click here.
Head coach Jared Grasso begins his second season and the Bulldogs were picked to finish in sixth place out of eleven teams in the Northeast Conference preseason coaches’ poll. Grasso took over a program that went 3-28 two seasons ago and led them to a 10-20 record last season, becoming the only team in Division I to triple its win total from the year before. They opened the 2019-2020 season on Tuesday, losing to Brown 73-71.
The best player on Bryant is senior guard Adam Grant, who has over 1,300 points in his career and averaged 15.6 points per game each of the last two seasons. He shot just 41.2% from the floor a year ago, but did make 38.6% of his shots from three-point range.
Joining Grant in the backcourt this season is freshman Michael Green III, who had 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists in his collegiate debut on Tuesday. Also junior Ikenna Ndugba had 8 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists in the season opener.
The frontcourt features junior Mikail Simmons, who had 11 points and 3 rebounds on Tuesday, as well as freshman Hall Elisias, who had 9 points and 6 rebounds in his debut.
All eleven scholarship players are healthy to begin the season.
Notes: Rutgers begins its 108th men’s basketball season tonight.
Keys To Victory
Push The Pace
We’ve heard how much Rutgers has prepared to play a more up tempo style this season. Jacob Young will surely lead the transition game, but how well this team plays under control, especially with adrenaline running high in the season opener, will be a key to watch for. Getting quality shots in transition and getting back in defense is something to watch for as well. Also expect some kick out three’s for Geo Baker and Akwasi Yeboah on the break.
Win the Turnover Battle
Rutgers is going to have to take care of the basketball better than last season, especially if they are going to run much more so. Not forcing passes and not dribbling into double teams are a must. On the defensive end, expect some fullcourt pressure at times and Rutgers should guard Bryant high on the perimeter. They’ll have a considerable size advantage in the backcourt and preventing the Bryan guards from starting their offense inside the three-point arc will force mistakes, leading to turnovers and more transition opportunities.
Attack the Basket
I’m sure we’ll see Rutgers try to show they are an improved shooting team, but I still believe this team will be best when they get to the rim. They’ll have a major advantage in regard to athleticism and getting penetration to generate high percentage looks near the rim should be a priority. Take three’s when they are open, but they need to play smart and not overdue it.
Share The Basketball
Team chemistry appears high, but once minutes and shots come into play, you never truly know how things will be. Rutgers needs to be a better passing team and sharing the basketball more so in the halfcourt is a must this season. Watch for how many passes they are making on a possession, how many ball rotations, and shot selection. All of these things are important and only happen if the players are bought into being unselfish and playing team basketball. I’m confident we will see that type of positive attitude, but it’s important to see it in the opening game of the season.
Defend for 40 Minutes
The best way for Rutgers to take control and establish a comfortable lead is to come out playing hard defense from the start. Ball pressure, boxing out, and guarding passing lanes will make it hard for Bryant to breath on the offensive end. Any underdog team needs shots to fall early to stay in the game and build confidence. If Rutgers is going to take the next step this season, they need to take over games against opponents like Bryant from the very beginning and make it an uphill battle for the visitors. Bryant does have one game under their belt, which is a slight advantage, but they’ll have tired legs in the second half too if Rutgers is relentless on the defensive end.
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 season opener, I’m going with The Grateful Dead’s The Eleven. One of my all-time favorite live songs from any band, it’s also appropriate for tonight. Rutgers has eleven scholarship players, but this jam also symbolizes the long, slow burn of the season ahead. Remember it’s a marathon and not a sprint. There will be ups and downs. Stay level and stay hopeful that this season will result in major progress and the first winning campaign in 14 years. The Eleven is a beautifully played song and hopefully it’s a sign we will see some equally beautiful basketball played this season by the Scarlet Knights. Time to pound some nails.