What to expect: Rutgers

  • 02/05/2018 10:39 am in

It’s another quick turnaround for Indiana as the Hoosiers hit the road to battle Rutgers tonight at the Louis Brown Athletic Center. The Scarlet Knights have lost five straight and are 12-13 overall.

The game will be broadcast at 7 p.m. ET on BTN with Brandon Gaudin and Robbie Hummel on the call:

Two weeks ago, Indiana was 5-3 in the Big Ten after a hard fought win over Maryland at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. That now seems like an eternity ago as the Hoosiers have lost four straight games with three of the losses coming against the Big Ten’s elite.

Fortunately for Indiana, the final third of the Big Ten schedule eases up significantly.

The Hoosiers have four games remaining against teams currently in the bottom five of the league standings, including tonight’s game at Rutgers.

MEET THE SCARLET KNIGHTS

Rutgers has been the Big Ten’s bottom dweller since joining the conference in 2014, but the Scarlet Knights are slowly showing signs of improvement.

In year two under Steve Pikiell, Rutgers has been competitive and owns home wins this season over Seton Hall, Wisconsin and Iowa. The Scarlet Knights have a top 20 defense nationally, but are a woeful 283rd in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted offensive efficiency ratings.

Junior point guard Corey Sanders is once again the team’s best player and is averaging a team-best 14.2 points in 32.4 minutes per game. The 6-foot-2 point guard is a high usage, low efficiency player who shoots just 42.3 percent on 2s and 22.5 percent on 3s.

He’s joined in the backcourt by freshman Geo Baker, who appears to have a bright future. The 6-foot-4 guard is second on the team in scoring at 11.6 points per game and is the team’s most reliable 3-point shooter. Baker is shooting 37.9 percent on 3s and had 16 points in Saturday’s narrow loss to Purdue.

Matt Bullock, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, comes off the bench and is playing well in the absence of senior guard Mike Williams, who has missed the last seven games with a severely sprained ankle. Bullock had six points in 17 minutes against Purdue, but has appeared in just five games this season.

The Scarlet Knights are also depleted in the frontcourt as Eugene Omoruyi is out indefinitely with a dislocated patella. Pikiell is starting 6-foot-7 senior Deshawn Freeman, 6-foot-10 sophomore Issa Thiam and 6-foot-9 Mamadou Doucoure, so the Hoosiers will be dealing with a lot of size.

Freeman is the standout of the group and averages 11.3 points and 7.5 rebounds in 26 minutes per game. Freeman is 13th in the conference in offensive rebounding percentage and 10th in defensive rebounding percentage.

Thiam is a capable 3-point shooter (38.8 percent) and averages 7.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. Doucore averages 3.2 points and 3.6 rebounds, but is shooting just 38.7 percent. Shaquille Doorson, a 7-foot junior, comes off the bench and is making 66.7 percent of his 2s.

TEMPO-FREE PREVIEW

Tonight’s game could be a low scoring, grind it out affair as both teams have struggled offensively. Rutgers is the Big Ten’s worst offense by a significant margin and the Hoosiers are 12th in league play in points per possession.

Both teams are top three in the conference in terms of forcing turnovers, but Indiana has a few key areas where it must excel to win on the road. Rutgers is in the bottom three in both free throw rate (FTA/FGA) and opponent free throw rate. The Hoosiers need to establish a distinct advantage at the foul line, which has been a struggle this season. Indiana is shooting just 64.9 percent from the line in league play.

Additionally, Indiana is the superior rebounding team and needs to follow up Saturday’s effort on the glass against Michigan State with another strong effort.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

The Vegas line favors Indiana by two as of this morning, but Ken Pomeroy likes Rutgers by one with a 49 percent chance of an Indiana victory. The Sagarin ratings like Indiana by just under two points.

Indiana is 5-0 all-time against Rutgers, but the Scarlet Knights are a much more competitive this season than they’ve been since joining the Big Ten, particularly at home. Simply put, Indiana must exhibit a much stronger effort to begin the game than the one put forth in Columbus on Tuesday.

“Rutgers plays very hard,” Archie Miller said Saturday. “They’re a tough out any single time that you play and we’ve got our work cut out for us getting up there. Biggest deal is no excuses. It is what it is. We have to get off this floor, up, ready to go and find a way Monday night to play well.”

Filed to:

  • Kyl470

    I would be pretty shocked if IU won this game. This team just simply struggles too much to put the ball in the basket. The PG play for this team has been really poor all year. I know everyone (myself included) likes to beat up on Newkirk, but over the course of the entire year neither AD or DG has been much better.

    I went to sports reference and pulled the shooting numbers on FG’s, 3 pointers, and free throws for everyone on the team and compared them to their career averages. Obviously I couldn’t do this for the freshman on the team. So of the following players: Morgan, Johnson, Newkirk, Green, Davis, Hartman, McSwain, McRoberts, and Curtis Jones here are the results.

    Two players are shooting better on FG’s and that is Morgan and Davis. McRoberts is the only player shooting better on 3 pointers. 5 players are actually shooting better on free throws and they are Johnson, Newkirk, Green, McRoberts, and Jones.

  • Ole Man

    I’d be shocked because the schedule has worn down this team.

  • IdahoHoosier

    Unfortunately, Curtis Jones isn’t shooting any free throws for IU. May want to take him out of your equation due to small sample size (3/4 on the year), and the fact that he isn’t on the team.

  • kurk81

    Seeing this as a possible turning point in the season. This IU team looks hungry and in a mood to take no prisoners. An NIT bid is still realistic, and we could even win a couple of B10 tourney games. If we can build on the nasty attitude that these guys seem to be finally buying into, we could end the season optimistic about future teams having success buying into Archie’s system. But this game tonight will tell if there’s hope.

  • Colt

    Rutgers is sort of like IU in that they struggle to score at times. They did give Purdue all they could handle though. This game is a toss up.

  • Ivan Renko

    I’d agree wholeheartedly usually, but I’m hesitant because of the 1-day turnaround. These kids were packing their bags to head to NJ right after the late MSU game. I would be more hopeful for our guys to come out and outwork Rutgers start to finish if they had another day or two of rest… we’ve seen what the quick turnaround road games have done to us in the past. The only consolation is that Rutgers is also on a quick turnaround, but they get home court advantage.

  • Arch Puddington

    At home and rested, we would be the favorites. On the road and weary, I’m surprised they aren’t favored by more. Our record isn’t meaningfully better than them, including the fact that they have played some good teams close. We are 1-7 on the road and coming off of a really physical game, so I’d expect them to win fairly comfortably.

  • Mark Bando

    On a complete side note, the newest sports illustrated mock draft came out today and JM is not on it.

  • Colt

    I think he needs to come back for another year. He can only get better and I believe next season will be a whole new ballgame.

  • kurk81

    I certainly feel your concern about the short turn-around, but I’m thinking it might almost be an advantage. This team is showing that it wants to be mentally and physically tough enough to win games ugly. This might be an opportunity to show just how tough they are. Of course, easy for me to say since I’ll be I’ll be sitting in my recliner with a Dragonfly while they’re working their butts off.

  • eljay

    Agreed, OM. At this point the entire team has to be running on fumes—along with Alex and the ITH staff , which has provided enormous amounts of content for the last couple of weeks.

    But they are a gritty bunch (…both groups)!

  • kurk81

    If someone offers him money, he should take it given his history of injuries. But yeah, he might look REALLY good next year at this time if the team around him is more talented and able to draw defenses away from him.

  • papawglen

    Did you really expect him to be there? He’s not an NBA caliber player.

  • Everything you say makes sense, and yet it’s not what I’m expecting. By this point, I think the players will come out hungry and fight for a win. Now, maybe I should have used “hoping” rather than “expecting,” but somehow I just have the idea that the guys are itching for a win right along with Archie, and that there will be some fire on display tonight.

  • Arch Puddington

    I’m hoping with you! What makes sense may or may not have anything to do with what happens!

  • If the team does come out strong and fights for a win, then we’ll have good reason to believe that Archie has finally got them playing his kind of basketball. That’ll bode well not only for the rest of the season, but for next season as well. It would be awesome to have a solid core of upperclassmen to help the freshmen get a grip on what it means to play for Archie — something that this team had to develop on its own.

  • David Macer

    What qualifications do you have to assess that ?? No one knows if a player can make the NBA or not. Olidepo was a little know 3-star player when recruited by IU. Hard work and Juwan can make the NBA.

  • JM should absolutely test the waters and get feedback. I suspect he’ll be told some specific things to work on that could make him a good fit for a team, like much improved outside shooting.

  • Ivan Renko

    he schooled 2 NBA lottery pick players during the MSU game…

    didn’t you also say that OG wouldn’t be a first round pick? (yes I creeped your older comments lol)

  • CWheels

    This being their fourth time I have to believe that If anyone is experienced enough to win a road game on a 1 day turnaround it is this team.Surely they know by now know what it takes.

  • RonMlarkey

    Oladipo was a projected lottery pick midway into his junior year.

  • Mark Bando

    I just hope he stays off the board so there is no decision for him to make

  • Mark Bando

    He just might be. Even more so than college, the NBA is now a three point shooting league with smaller versatile lineups. Guys like JM that have the size and quickness to guard the three point line and multiple positions are in demand.

  • Mark Bando

    I suspect if JM plays in the NBA it will be more for what he can do defensively rather than offensively, just like OG. OG is starting for the raptors and it aint cuz hes scoring alot.

  • Lance76

    I watched Rutgers play only a few times. Sanders seems to be the “straw that stirs that drink” If we can lock him down, I think we win.

  • vicbert caladipo

    I expect this one to go to OT with Rutgers winning by 2. DG is our leading scorer and JM fouls out near end of regulation. Poor shooting again and Freddie airballing another FT. Hope I am wrong but that’s what the crystal ball says

  • Arch Puddington
  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    That was a great knock out comment. Kudos to you on that one.

  • Missing Moye

    What to expect? Me not showing up here tonight if we lose this game. This place gets ugly after losses. I’m going to be the anti-elbows and only show up after wins.

  • papawglen

    I can’t see him being a first round pick and hope he has enough sense to stay at IU if he isn’t. A lot of people seemed pretty sure early on that Davis would go to the NBA after this season and now a lot of them aren’t even picking him to start next year even if he is healthy.

  • papawglen

    I agree completely. I think he will work on what they tell him and get drafted after he graduates.

  • David Macer

    DD has already said he can’t wait for summer to get back to work. Morgan will be back too.