The Scarlet Knights, after an historic stretch, fell back to earth, dropping their second straight road game.
The Concern Was Clear: With Michigan being the biggest story in the college basketball world, you had to expect that the Wolverines weren’t just going to roll over. Phil Martelli is a good coach, and a calming force. Even with Moussa Diabete out, Michigan is still talented and able to make shots. It was also a revenge game for Michigan and it is difficult to sweep anyone in the Big Ten. Michigan took it to Rutgers and the Scarlet Knights were a step slow all night. Not their night.
Road Rutgers Appeared: This was the road team we saw earlier in the season. They hung around, but never could get on a run to take the lead or create space. Rutgers only led in this game on the play after the tip and tied it once in the second half. Had they taken the lead, it may have put a ton more pressure on Michigan, but they never could, despite having multiple opportunities at the end of the first half to get on a run. Michigan went cold. It didn’t happen.
Cliff Omoruyi and Ron Harper Jr are Players: Hunter Dickinson didn’t intimidate the sophomore, that’s for sure. Omoruyi was impressive in the second half with dunks, baby hooks and rebounding the ball. He withstood Michigan’s physical play and managed to get to the hoop. The ball didn’t go in for Rutgers tonight but it wasn’t for Cliff’s lack of trying. He even hit a deep three! He finished with 17. Meanwhile, Ron Harper Jr worked for everything the hard way. He battled, his injury clearly bothered him, but he scored 19 and had 7 rebounds.
Paul Mulcahy Was Off All Night: Saddled with foul trouble and bumped and bodied all night, Mulcahy wasn’t able to play his game. He was clearly frustrated, particularly in the second half and it affected his play. We now know that Mulcahy is the engine that makes everything go. Shots were falling for the team and he wasn’t able to find easy looks for the other Rutgers players.
It’s never easy for Rutgers, right? A win here would have made the path to the NCAAs very, very clear. But now it’s down to three games left and the Scarlet Knights are probably going to have to find two wins before the Big Ten Tournament. The good news is two of the next three are at home where the Scarlet Knights play incredibly well. But Wisconsin is out for revenge (never easy to sweep) and they are one of the better road teams in the Big Ten, at 7-2. Buckle up.
Yeah, yeah, this is kind of a cheat and five thoughts, but I’m a bit grumpy.