Caldwell (6-5) vs. Rutgers (9-3; 1-1)
How To Watch, Listen, News & Notes
Where: The RAC (8,000 capacity) in Piscataway, New Jersey
Tip-off: Monday, December 30th at 7:00 p.m. ET
Promotion: Gas Attendant Appreciation Knight. Student for a Game: $15 student section ticket available to the general public.
Stream: BTN Plus - Lou Brogno and Nick Kosko
KenPom Rankings: Rutgers 52nd; Caldwell N/A; Rutgers has moved up 4 spots since win over Lafayette.
Efficiency Rankings: Rutgers - Offense 103.4 (107th) Defense 89.8 (29th); Caldwell - N/A
KenPom Prediction: No score; 100% chance for Rutgers to win.
Vegas Line: N/A
Series History: Rutgers leads 1-0 all-time after a 70-62 victory on February 9, 2010.
Caldwell Scouting Report
Head coach Marc Corino is in his 32nd season at the helm for a Caldwell Division II team that’s won four of it’s last five games and owns a victory over Division I Norfolk State. They also lost to Division I Saint Peter’s in a preseason exhibition game by 21 points.
The Cougars score 75.5 points per game but are allowing opponents to average 78.4 points per contest. They are shooting 42.3% from the floor, including 33.5% from three-point range and 74.1% from the free throw line. Caldwell averages 15.1 turnovers per game, while they force opponents into 17.0 turnovers per game.
They are led by 6’2” sophomore guard Anthony Cooper, who averages 13.1 points per game while shooting 38.9% from three-point range on 21 of 54 from deep. 6’6” senior forward Eric Johnson-Alford posts 11.5 points on 54.2% shooting and 5.0 rebounds per contest. 6’1” senior guard Vaughn Convington is averaging 11.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game, as well making 40.6% of his 32 attempts from behind the arc. 6’7” senior Ludd Rutterman is scoring 10.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.
No significant injuries for either team.
Notes: As a team, Rutgers is shooting 46.6% from the floor, 28.0% from three-point range, and 65.2% from the free throw line......The Scarlet Knights are second in the Big Ten in steals with 7.8 and turnovers forced at 14.3 per game, third in scoring defense at 60.3 points allowed per contest, fourth in rebounding margin at +9.1, and fifth in field goal percentage defense at 38.6% and blocks at 5.1.....Rutgers is undefeated this season at the RAC (9-0) and limiting opponents to under 60 points per game (7-0).....The Scarlet Knights have outrebounded its opponents in every game but one thi season......They are ranked 40th in the NET rankings that are used by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee to determine the field of 68 at the end of the season.
Keys To Victory
I first want to say I’m not happy about this game being played. While I understand a lot of circumstances can play out, making it very challenging to find opponents to fill a certain date on the schedule, I hope Rutgers doesn’t need to drop down to Division II ranks for a game moving forward. A crucial Big Ten road game awaits on Friday at Nebraska and the question I can’t seem to answer is how does this opponent help Rutgers prepare? For a team now clearly on the bubble and just a little over two weeks removed from the 20 point blowout of Seton Hall, this game becomes more visible in sticking out like a sore thumb.
This game does nothing to boost its postseason chances or help this team develop much either. While it’s a great opportunity for a local program like Caldwell, the talent level isn’t close to what Rutgers will be facing the next 18 remaining games this season.
As for keys to victory, Rutgers needs to be dominant from the opening tip on and impose its will in this game. Give Covington and Cooper plenty of attention on the defensive end from behind the arc, as you don’t want to allow this Cinderella to get any kind of hope from catching fire from deep. Ball pressure and jumping out in passing lanes will help to generate Caldwell turnovers and potentially lead to fast break points. As for the offense, attack the rim, share the basketball, and get the rock to Myles Johnson in the middle of paint as much as humanly possible.
The Scarlet Knights are bigger, stronger, more athletic and more talented, so its a bit of a no win situation. Victory by single digits will reflect badly and win by 50, it won’t impress anyone. Obviously the worst case scenario with a loss would be catastrophic. The most important part aside from winning is getting out of this game healthy heading into conference play.
Appropriate Music Selection
For the thirteenth game of the season, I’m featuring, Booker T & the MG’s performing Green Onions in 1967. It’s an all-time classic guitar song and doesn’t have any lyrics, which is appropriate since I don’t have much to say about this game.