Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Record: 14-7 (6-4)
KenPom Rank: 17
You may be surprised to know that Rutgers is pretty good this year. Steve Pikiell has been building this program since he took over in 2017 and they are on pace to finish in the top 4 of the Big Ten and potentially a 4 or 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
For Gopher fans, it may be important to note that Pikiell had just 3 wins in each of his first two seasons. Patience is a virtue.
But can the Gophers put a dent into the Rutgers Tourney resume? Here’s how.
KEYS TO A GOPHER WIN
Stop Clifford Omoruyi - The big man is a double-double machine and he opens thins up for Cam Spencer to shoot over 40% from three. He’s active, he’s physical and should be a great challenge for Pharrel Payne. Foul trouble will be interesting to watch here.
Be ready for a physical defense - Rutgers is currently #2 in defensive efficiency. This Gopher offense more efficient lately, but they still go long stretches without scoring. They struggled against a good Northwestern defense, this defense is better.
Turnovers - We really struggle with turnovers and Rutgers is good at forcing them. This has been a significant problem, from all over the floor. Josh Ola-Joseph, Payne and Jaden Henley are all turning the ball over at an alarming rate. So is Ta’Lon Cooper, but he also has the ball in his hands often and I’m not terribly upset with his turnovers.
Bad matchup here for the Gophers. Rutgers will be in 2nd place in the Big Ten with a win tonight. In addition they just gave up 92 points to Iowa and I anticipate there will be some rather intense focus on locking down defensively. This is not going to be great for Minnesota.
I don’t see this as a win for the Gophers.
Minnesota - 61
Rutgers - 73