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Embracing Expectations: 4 Thoughts on Wisconsin

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers won their Big Ten home opener for the first time in the Big Ten Conference. They defeated Wisconsin 72-65.

Four Thoughts.

Geo Baker Was on His Game: Baker has been attacking the rim more and more this season and he did it a ton tonight. Whether it was lay-ups with the right hand, lay-ups with the left hand, or dunks, Baker found the lane and used it. He also hit some key threes and showed again why he’s this team’s top player. Baker scored 22 points, had 4 assists and played an all around great game. He also played fantastic defense, slowing Wisconsin’s guards, including D’mitrik Trice, who only scored two points tonight.

How Important Is Myles Johnson? The Center was dominant today when he was able to be on the floor. While he’s been getting called for a lot of ticky-tack fouls that have glued him to bench at times, he really has been able to be a central figure when on the court. His development into a top conference big man continued tonight. Though saddled with four fouls, Johnson had 12 points and 7 rebounds. Nate Reuvers couldn’t figure Johnson out and was truly held in check tonight.

Steve Pikiell Kind of Basketball: This is the kind of hoops Pikiell must have envisioned when he took over this program. The Scarlet Knights held the Badgers to the speed limit (65 points) and shot a hair under 35% from the three point line for the game. Rutgers out-rebounded Wisconsin 40-26, including 14 offensive rebounds. Also Rutgers picked their spots to run, run, run and got easy buckets. They shot 46% overall. Just a beautiful grind. I loved every minute of this game.

Now It’s War: Saturday is going to be a 40 minute war. Just like it was two years ago, the RAC will be buzzing from the tip and Rutgers is going to have to match and even exceed tonight’s effort. Myles Powell is going to be fired up, but the Pirates are wounded. Rutgers, that we know of, have no injuries and will have a full squad ready to go. This was the week everyone pointed to. Tonight was the appetizer. Saturday is the main course. Wear red. Be loud. #DecktheHall.