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Embracing Expectations: 4 Thoughts on Michigan

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NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Michigan Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers dropped a tough one to Michigan, 69-63. Four Thoughts:

Rutgers Did Not Play Well: Everything Rutgers has done well for the majority of the season failed them today, in a huge game. The defense was often sloppy, leaving wide open looks from three for Michigan players. Michigan isn’t a good three point shooting team, but made nine of them today. Brandon Johns Jr and Eli Brooks combined for 7 of those nine. Meanwhile, Rutgers’ offense sputtered. They couldn’t get to the rim and couldn’t get consistent looks for Myles Johnson in close. The fast break wasn’t there either. Michigan’s length and height really bothered Rutgers in this game. Things just weren’t working for Rutgers, meanwhile, the Wolverines had the kind of game where they shot the lights out.

How Good Was Montez Mathis: Mathis continues to show huge developments on the offensive side. He made two threes, got to the rim pretty easily and almost singlehandedly kept the Scarlet Knights in the game, especially when they were on the verge of being blown out. Mathis played 33 minutes and scored 17 points while also playing good defense. If anyone was engaged with the game today it was Mathis. I think Rutgers played hard, but they didn’t play well. Mathis was able to do both and continues to develop as another factor for Rutgers on offense. It will be interesting to watch him on Tuesday against Maryland. He wasn’t recruited by the Terrapins, but would have loved an offer. Can he continue this hot play?

Time to Worry about Geo Baker?: Geo hasn’t been right since he came back from the broken thumb and that sparse play continued today. He hit a big three toward the end of the game where fans thought maybe there would be a little magic in Madison Square Garden, but other than that, he seemed off again. Baker shot only 1-9 and he seemed spotty with the ball. He defense wasn’t terrific either. He seemed a step slow on the rotations, but that could be just me looking for issues. Geo Baker is the leader of this team, and I don’t doubt he’ll get right, but it needs to be sooner rather than later.

Kudos, Rutgers fans: The Scarlet Faithful took over the Garden today, and very much got under the skin of the Michigan faithful. Michigan fans near me seemed to think that even though Rutgers is in the top 25 this was going to be a walk, but Rutgers got them to work for it. The Rutgers fans were loud and this certainly felt like RAC Northeast. The atmosphere in the building was incredible and it felt like a postseason battle. If the Big Ten could ever get the Tournament back to the MSG it would be so, so cool. Hopefully, it happens again one day. Rutgers fans took over.