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Embracing Expectations: 4 Thoughts On Rutgers 68-59 loss to Maryland

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

You ever just have a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach? That’s how I felt all day today. Maryland is starting to roll and that worried me.

The Scarlet Knights had a 3 pm tip off, and even got off to a good start, but couldn’t sustain it. Rutgers sleepwalked the rest of the way and let a desperate Maryland team take it to them in a deflating loss.

Four Thoughts

No Show: Rutgers needed to match the bubble team Maryland’s intensity and execution to win this one. The Scarlet Knights are currently in the tournament, but not if they end the season this way. After a crisp start, feeding Myles Johnson for the first two buckets and letting Geo Baker get going early, the wheels fell off. At the first substitution, Rutgers offensive execution went out the window. Maryland packed in the middle and Rutgers packed it in completely. They were able to get in to single digits in the second half, but the Terrapins superior execution down the stretch did them in.

They Miss the RAC of Old: This has been a point before, but home games aren’t home games. Had this happened in a normal season, the grumbling in the stands would have turned into a roar. The refs (who weren’t bad) would have been yelled at. The crowd would have tried to inspire the Knights. Instead, there’s nothing to wake a team up. The team that brings energy from the tip is usually the one that wins.

Ron Harper Jr: I don’t know if he’s putting pressure on himself or if there’s something more than that going on, but Rutgers needs him. He’s so off that everything looks wrong on his end. Even when he plays hard—he pulled down a couple of tough rebounds—something looks wrong. I don’t even know if that’s a good way to put it, but we miss the Ron Harper of old. If he can turn it on, it will make everythign flow again.

Time’s Running Out: It is certainly not time to panic—there are still three games and the Big Ten Tournament left. But Wednesday night is the last home game of the season. Rutgers still needs two wins to feel safe on Selection Sunday. Indiana is kind of reeling after a loss to the Michigan State Spartans. This should be a game Rutgers wins—but they can’t just show up. They need to put their foot on the neck of the opposition and they need to do it the rest of the way. You want a team playing at its best at the end of February. The time is now. Let’s hope Jacob Young is okay and the team is ready to going forward.