The hangover was a bit delayed for Rutgers.
Not necessarily a hangover but the Scarlet Knights suffered a slight setback with a loss to Iowa on Sunday. After defeating No. 1 Purdue, Rutgers handled Maryland with ease last time out and avoided any inkling of a letdown. On Sunday, it reared its head a bit.
In a wire-to-wire victory, Iowa was able to control pace. It scored 42 points in the first half and Rutgers was unable to slow own the offense of the Hawkeyes in the second half. Rutgers forced 18 turnovers but Iowa was strong from the field, shooting 44.4% and knocking down 12 shots from beyond the arc.
Payton Sanford, who was struggling in Big Ten play coming into the weekend, lit up the Scarlet Knights for 22 points on 6-for-8 from the field and 4-for-5 from three. Kris Murray logged 17 points and Filip Rebraca finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
This is life in the Big Ten and it is nothing new for Rutgers and Steve Pikiell — and they will be ready next time out.
Every week, there is a new gauntlet to deal with in the Big Ten. The loss to Iowa might have come as a disappointment but Rutgers finished last week with a win over the No. 1 team in the nation and followed it up with a convincing performance against the Terps. A win against Iowa might have put the Scarlet Knights into the Top 25 but there will be time for that as the season progresses.
This week, the road does not get any easier.
Rutgers, who is now 11-5 (3-2 in conference), will take on a hot Northwestern team on Wednesday night before returning home to host Ohio State on Sunday. The opportunity for revenge against the Buckeyes after a win that wasn't will have to be secondary.
Northwestern is 12-3 this season with recent victories over Illinois and on the road against Indiana. This is a Wildcats’ team that is much improved and is playing well at home.
The Scarlet Knights will have two more chances to add impressive wins that will help seeding come March. Most importantly, Rutgers will need to shake off the loss on Sunday and continue to gauntlet in conference.