There was a time when Rutgers was 3-2 in the Big East this season. A month and a half ago they’d won three out of four games, including a win over then-#24 Pittsburgh and a road victory against a St. John’s team that is now 8-6 in the Big East.
Things have since fallen apart for Mike Rice’s team. The Scarlet Knights have lost eight of their last nine games, and recently saw leading scorer Eli Carter go down with a broken leg.
On paper, Rutgers looked to have a competitive team heading into this season. Carter had a very good freshman season, scoring nearly 14 points per game, and Rice also had returning sophomores Jerome Seagears and high school All American Myles Mack coming back to form a talented trio that picked up valuable playing time in their first year.
There was experience around them with Dane Miller and Mike Poole on the wings and sophomore power forward Derrick Randall providing depth, while the hope was that once highly-regarded big men Kadeem Jack and Wally Judge would meet their potential.
While Rutgers has never made the tournament since joining the Big East 17 years ago, many were high on the Knights heading into the season. ESPN the Magazine had they rated 45th in the country in the preseason.
Things haven’t gone according to plan since the strong start, however. Judge, a top 20 recruit out of high school who came to Rutgers via Kansas State hasn’t played like the NBA player some thought he would eventually become, while the 6’9 Jack has broken into double figures just once in Big East play. With solid production coming from the sophomore guards, the frontcourt has let Rutgers down this season.
With a win today, Rutgers can pull to within a game of Providence with three remaining, but a Friar win on Saturday night ensures PC gets a bye on the Tuesday of the Big East Tournament.
- Providence is 15-8 all time versus Rutgers, and 3-7 on the road.
- Mack leads the Big East in both free throw (91%) and three point (45%) percentage
- Seagears is shooting over 45% from 3 in Big East games
- PC defeated Rutgers 78-67 in their last meeting. The game was in Providence and Bryce Cotton made a pair of late threes to stave off a RU rally. Bilal Dixon led PC with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
- Vincent Council was outstanding in last year’s win, dishing out 14 assists.