With the dust mostly settled on rosters for the 2023-24 season, we’re going team-by-team in the Big Ten to assess where everyone stands and how things could shake out next year.
Next up is Rutgers, which has developed some consistency under Steve Pikiell in the last several years, but is still looking to take the next step. The Scarlet Knights finished in a tie for ninth in the Big Ten last year with a 10-10 league record, and a 19-15 overall mark. And they finished just short of a third consecutive NCAA Tournament bid — Rutgers was the second team on the First Four Out line when last season’s bracket was revealed.
- Cam Spencer (13.2 PPG)
- Caleb McConnell (9.1 PPG)
- Paul Mulcahy (8.3 PPG)
- Dean Reiber (1.8 PPG)
- Jalen Miller (0.7 PPG)
- Cliff Omoruyi, C, (13.2 PPG)
- Aundre Hyatt, F, (8.8 PPG)
- Mawot Mag, F, (7.8 PPG)
- Derek Simpson, G, (7.1 PPG)
- Antwone Woolfolk, F, (2.3 PPG)
- Oskar Palmquist, F, (2.3 PPG)
- Antonio Chol, F, redshirted
- Austin Williams, G, (16.1 PPG at Hartford)
- Noah Fernandes, G, (13.4 PPG at UMass)
- Emmanuel Ogbole, C, (12.3 PPG at Monroe College)
- Jeremiah Williams, G, (transferred from Iowa State after missing all of 2022-23, would need an NCAA waiver to play this season)
Freshmen (Rankings from 247Sports Composite)
- Gavin Griffiths, G, (No. 44)
- Jamichael Davis, G, (No. 244)
RETURNING MINUTES: 53.3 percent (per barttorvik.com)
VS. INDIANA: Jan. 9, at Rutgers
WHY IT WILL WORK
Rutgers has been tough to play against under Pikiell because of its strong defense. The Scarlet Knights have finished outside the top 20 in adjusted defensive efficiency on KenPom just once in the last four seasons. Losing two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Caleb McConnell will be a blow, but Pikiell’s squads usually find a way to plug those holes. Cliff Omoruyi, an All-Big Ten Defensive Team selection, returns in the middle, and will be crucial on both ends. Rutgers will also need Derek Simpson and Mawot Mag to build on the positive strides they made last season. If that happens, and the transfer portal additions blend in and supplement the offense, Rutgers could be solid.
WHY IT WON’T
It won’t work if Rutgers’ offense isn’t providing enough juice. The Scarlet Knights have finished with a bottom four offense (by KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency) in the Big Ten in every season since they joined the conference. They had the second-worst offense in the Big Ten last year. And Rutgers just saw three of its top five scorers from last season — McConnell, Cam Spencer, and Paul Mulcahy — depart in the offseason. That’s a problem for an offense that was already not great. If Rutgers’ defense regresses at all and the offense can’t improve, that could spell trouble.
Pikiell is one of the better coaches in the league, which makes it easier to trust Rutgers a bit more than perhaps its roster warrants it. But this is a team with a lot of question marks entering this season. Frankly, the ceiling doesn’t feel remarkably high — if Rutgers’ defense is one of the best in the country again, and the offense reasonably improves, this looks like a pesky team that should get an NCAA Tournament bid. But that’s if everything comes together. There are more scenarios where that doesn’t happen, and Rutgers is looking more like an NIT team, or worse. It would be surprising if the Scarlet Knights were among the worst teams in the conference — they, on paper, look clearly better than Minnesota. But the floor looks lower for Rutgers than it has the past few years.
BIG TEN OUTLOOK: Bottom half of the conference
PRIOR ROSTER ANALYSES:
The Daily Hoosier –“Where Indiana fans assemble when they’re not at Assembly”