It is senior day in Bloomington as IU says goodbye to five players and attempts to keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive against Rutgers.
Juwan Morgan, Zach McRoberts, Evan Fitzner, Johnny Jager and Quentin Taylor will all be playing their last game at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Of course it is also likely the final home game for freshman guard Romeo Langford, who is a near certainty to leave for the NBA after the season.
That is all, of course, assuming that the Hoosiers actually reach the big dance. Otherwise, an encore home court performance in the NIT may be in order for Indiana.
That is something that no one on this team wants. But in order to avoid an unplanned homecoming, the Hoosiers will have to avenge a January loss to the Scarlet Knights.
GAME DAY ESSENTIALS
Rutgers (14-15, 7-12) at Indiana (16-14, 7-12)
- Tip time: Noon Eastern
- Location: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana
- Television: BTN (Brandon Gaudin and Jess Settles)
- Series: Indiana leads 6-2 (Rutgers won the last meeting 66-58 on Jan. 30)
- Point Spread: Indiana is a 7 point favorite.
- Tickets (Seat Geek affiliate link)
Steve Pikiell is in his third season at Rutgers. In his 15 years as a head coach he has a career mark of 241-226.
We asked our seniors to pick one favorite moment from their time at IU ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/aY5Gu2fAH0
— Indiana Basketball (@IndianaMBB) March 9, 2019
- Highlights from the first meeting:
TOP RUTGERS NAMES TO KNOW
Eugene Omoruyi – Leads Rutgers in both points and rebounds per game at 13.5 and 7.4 per tilt, but more important, he just leads. The 6-foot-7 junior forward is the emotional leader of the team. He put up 14 and 10 against IU in the first meeting, and he has been solid throughout Big Ten play.
Geo Baker – The Scarlet Knights lack a true point guard, but Baker usually has the ball in his hands to facilitate the offense. He leads the team with 4.2 assists per game and can be a streaky shooter. Although he is coming off an 0-for-10 game against Penn State, the 6-foot-4 guard will have a green light to chuck it up from just about anywhere.
Montez Mathis – Another streaky scoring guard that can put up big numbers. The freshman has had 16 or more points six times in Big Ten play.
Ron Harper Jr. – The son of the former NBA great, Harper was an unheralded recruit that has caught fire lately. He is averaging more than 20 a game over his last two contests including a 27 point outburst against Iowa.
The Rutgers Big Men – Shaq Carter (6-foot-9, 245 pounds), Shaq Doorson (7-foot-0, 255 pounds) and Myles Johnson (6-foot-10, 255 pounds). None of them play big minutes, but one of them is almost always on the floor and will present a challenge on the offensive glass, especially when De’Ron Davis is on the bench.
TALE OF THE TAPE
See how the Hoosiers and Scarlet Knights stack up statistically:
KEYS TO VICTORY
Composure. Between senior day and having no margin for error with the NCAA, the Hoosiers will have a lot on their minds leading up to the tip-off. That all needs to be put aside once the game begins. Indiana has won three in a row with maximum effort and defense. Those are things that they should be able to control irrespective of their nerves or emotions.
Push the Pace. Rutgers likes to slow you down, force you into the half court and have you take contested shots late in the shot clock. Indiana needs to push the ball and probe for opportunities before the defense gets set. The Scarlet Knights also turn the ball over on nearly 19% of their possessions, which can create opportunities to turn defense into easy points.
Limit Rutgers Second Chance Opportunities. Some teams rebound on athleticism as much as effort. For Rutgers, it is all about their size and effort. That can be tougher to contend with as the Scarlet Knights relentlessly pursue the offensive glass. Rutgers uses a 10-man rotation and they all hit the boards. Collectively they gather 33% percent of their misses, a top 40 number nationally. Rutgers is not a great shooting team. If you can keep them off the glass, you can beat them. Indiana will have to box out aggressively and have all hands on deck rebounding the basketball, including the guards.
Avoid the big run. IU controlled the first game in New Jersey before a 22-0 Rutgers run did them in. It was the same story last year in the Big Ten Tournament when the Scarlet Knights abruptly ended Indiana’s season. Indiana is the better team here, but that hasn’t always mattered as things have snowballed in the last two meetings. It should be noted however that IU was without De’Ron Davis, Devonte Green and Race Thompson in the first meeting, and Zach McRoberts only played one minute.
PREDICTION: Indiana 68 Rutgers 62
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