Stop us if you've heard this before — Rutgers is preparing for a pivotal matchup in the Big Ten.
The Scarlet Knights will play what is now a home game against Michigan State at Madison Square Garden on Saturday afternoon. Not only is Rutgers attempting to avenge a Jan. 19 loss in East Lansing, but they want to “defend home court” in the conference.
On Thursday, the NCAA shared that this game will count as a home game for Rutgers rather than a neutral-site game. This is an area where Rutgers could have used a win to bolster what is already a strong NCAA Tournament resume. The Scarlet Knights are currently 2-5 away from Jersey Mike’s Arena.
Also, this turns a potential win into a Quadrant 2 game rather than Q1. Despite the game not being held in Piscataway, there will be many fans present just 40 miles away. The Scarlet Knights’ ticket office has sold around 4,000 tickets for the game.
Off the court aside, Rutgers is hoping that there will not be lids on the rim at the World’s Most Famous Arena.
In the first meeting, the Scarlet Knights scored 57 points and shot 34.4% from the field. This included 2-for-17 from three-point range. The turnover battle was even (11 for Rutgers, 10 for MSU) and Rutgers won the battle on the boards. If the ball does not go in the basket, few other things matter.
In three games since, Rutgers is shooting 41% (20-for-48) from three-point range.
The Scarlet Knights are currently tied with Illinois for second in the Big Ten at 7-4. There are six different teams sitting at 6-5, including Michigan State. If Rutgers is able to win on Saturday, it will take a two-game lead on the Spartans. If not, Michigan State will be even in the standings with two head-to-head wins.
While the game might not take place in Jersey Mike’s Arena, Rutgers nation should be in full force.