clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2022-23 Rutgers Men’s Basketball Season Preview

Answer some questions about the upcoming season ahead of tonight’s opener!

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Rutgers Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The time has come. Rutgers Men’s Basketball will tipoff tonight with a matchup against Columbia at Jersey Mike’s Arena.

There is plenty of be excited about after three years of great success within the program. Changes have been made within the roster as the Scarlet Knights will showcase a bit of a new-look team.

Fans have had all offseason to prepare for this moment but below, take a look at some questions to ponder over the course of the afternoon into game time.

Who is the most important player for this team?

The Scarlet Knights return three key players — Caleb McConnell, Cliff Omoruyi, and Paul Mulcahy. Any of the three would be obvious answers but the transfer portal might have produced the most important player.

Cam Spencer came over from Loyola-Maryland this offseason. He led the Patriot League in scoring with 18.9 points per game and was a sharpshooter across the board. Spencer shot 85.8% from the free throw line while finishing 35.8% from three-point range.

Not only is Spencer effectively offensively, he is an experienced player that competes hard on both ends of the floor. The roles for the returning players at Rutgers are already set. Spencer will be Abe to solidify his spot within the offense early on and can bring a needed threat from the outside.

The loss of Geo Baker and Ron Harper Jr. left some holes on this roster but the Scarlet Knights have done their part in filling them. Spencer brings that offensive punch that can prove important right away.

Which player will have a breakout season?

This could be answered in different ways — between either Derek Simpson or Mawot Mag.

Simpson comes in as a true freshman and has a chance to produce for the Scarlet Knights off the bench. During the exhibition game against Fairfield, Simpson showed off incredible athleticism and knocked down two shots from deep. He finished with 12 points on 5-for-7 from the field.

Mag has shown flashes and might be ready to take the next step. We mentioned the losses will leave some room for other players to step up offensively and Mag is on the short list of those who can. He plays at. quick pace and brings energy right away. Mag can score in the lane and is a strong rebounder as well.

If all goes right, Rutgers has a chance to be deep and use many players over the course of a game. Simpson and Mag will be looked upon to add some potential firepower.

What is your biggest reason for optimism?

Rutgers brings back a ton of experience. Exactly 62% of minutes return to the team for the 2022-23 season. In the Big Ten, this is extremely important.

This season, the Big Ten is wide open. It is going to be the best conference in college basketball once again. Rutgers is equipped with an experienced point guard that led the conference in assists, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, and one of the best big men.

If that is not enough reason for optimism, then you do not believe in the team. Also, throw Steve Pikiell into the mix.

Pikiell has built this program into an NCAA Tournament team and has brought it to a national level. With experience, a leader on the sideline, and talent at all levels, Rutgers could be primed for another tournament appearance in 2022-23.

What is your bold prediction for the season?

Rutgers returns to the top five in the Big Ten...this time by themselves.

The Scarlet Knights finished 12-8 on conference play last season and this was good for a three-way tie for fourth place. This season, Rutgers has a chance to return to the top.

The Big Ten is going to be loaded. There is no doubt about that. Illinois, Indiana, Michigan — these are just to name a few. Of course, Purdue and Michigan State are always in the mix as well. Over the last three years, Rutgers has inserted itself into the mix and this year should be no different.

What is your season prediction for this team?

The bold prediction ties into the season prediction a bit and as usual, it is a tough road.

The Scarlet Knights begin non-conference play with some games to get its feet wet. A Hall of Fame Classic showdown with Temple will bring an early-season test as Rutgers looks to avoid the dread Quad 4 loss— something that it has been unable to do in recent years.

Miami and Seton Hall are swing games in the non-conference while Bucknell and Coppin State provide an intriguing and important back-to-back. Rutgers has shown a tendency to get tripped up on an occasions or two.

Once conference play begins, the Scarlet Knights know what to expect. After a 12-8 year a season ago, Rutgers has a chance to improve — while slightly, it still counts.

Record: 21-10 (13-7 Big Ten)