Wisconsin basketball is ready to hit the road after being at home for a month, starting with a trip to New Jersey to face the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
Wisconsin basketball is coming off a signature win against Indiana and the Rutgers squad they’ll be facing recently lost by 31 to Purdue.
When the Wisconsin Badgers play Rutgers Friday Night, Wisconsin will be on the road, something they haven’t done since December 6 when they did their tour of Pennsylvania. For Rutgers, it’s a quick turnaround. They played in West Lafayette on Wednesday and now have to host a Badger team who might have found their identity.
The Badgers yet again had to adjust their starting five against Indiana on Tuesday. Surprisingly it worked. The Badgers of 2018 look like the Badgers we are used to seeing play basketball.
Rutgers was hoping for a trap game against Purdue. That seems to be what Rutgers call games in the Big Ten. The Scarlet Knights will always struggle to compete in the top
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half so they can only hope teams don’t prepare enough for them.
That didn’t happen at Mackey the other night. Rutgers has serious issues trying to score. Only one starter went over ten points. Geo Baker dropped 11 on 4-12 shooting. Mike Williams contributed 10 off the bench as he shot 3-8. Baker and Williams were the only two who knocked down three-pointers as they both made one each.
To put it in perspective, the Boilermakers had four of five starters reach double-digits while P.J. Thompson had nine and Ryan Cline had 12 off the bench.
Anything can happen in basketball. It probably wouldn’t have surprised Big Ten fans if Purdue had a hard time shooting and shots fell for Rutgers. That certainly isn’t likely, but stranger things have happened.
It helped that Purdue was at home. As crazy as the Big 12 season has started, where more road teams won than home, I’m not willing to bet a top-10 program to lose on their home court to a basement team such as Rutgers
Now they return home and the Badgers play Rutgers on Friday night. Don’t count the Knights out in this one. They are a team who only lost to Florida State by five, played Michigan State really close and completed the upset of Seton Hall.
Rutgers is led by three main starters. There’s the junior point guard Corey Sanders. Everyone knows who will be matched up on him. Brad Davison always draws the best. Sanders only shoots 24 percent from behind-the-arc and has only made 12 on the season.
Another guard to keep an eye on is Geo Baker who is a freshman that averages almost 12 points per game and dropped 17 against a good Pirates team. The status of Brevin Pritzl is unknown at this point. If Khalil Iverson takes Baker, he will have to work on defending the arc as this Scarlet Knights guard has over 20 three-pointers this season.
Deshawn Freeman rounds out double-digit scoring threats for Rutgers. He’s a 6’7 senior forward who could get matched up against Aleem Ford which would work to the Badgers’ advantage. Freeman has only attempted two three-pointers all season. Ford has knocked down a total of 24 which averages to be a little over one per game.
Mike Williams for Rutgers is a senior guard who doesn’t start. He puts in almost 10 points per game, but he’s best as the sixth man. It’ll be nice if Pritzl returns, but otherwise T.J. Schlundt or Walt McGrory will have to go up against a veteran Scarlet Knight.
It’s nice that no big man has been mentioned yet. Nate Reuvers seems to be a good match up for the interesting 6’10 guard from Senegal. Issa Thiam is a sophomore who starts and is capable of hitting three-pointers. Since Reuvers has been trusted with more responsibilities and can play on the perimeter, those will be his assignments.
Rutgers starts big man Mamadou Doucoure who is a 6’9 freshman from Mali. He and 6’7 sophomore Eugene Omoruyi rotate a lot. Omoruyi ultimately records more minutes so Ethan Happ will see more of him as the game goes on.
The Badgers will more than likely see another big man when they play Rutgers Friday night. Shaquille Doorson is a 7’0 junior center from the Netherlands. He played more minutes against Purdue than Seton Hall as they had to continue to match the Boilermakers’ size.
When it comes down to it, only one big man plays well at a time and if the Badgers get them in foul trouble, Wisconsin should dominate in the front court.
A few things to take note before Wisconsin plays Rutgers Friday night:
The bench is certainly something to look at as Wisconsin has lost three guards up until this point, but are still competing in games.
Schlundt and McGrory have been trading off between more playing time. As long as the one who does get close to 20 minutes can knock down a triple and play defense, it doesn’t matter.
Charles Thomas IV made the most out of his four minutes of action against Indiana. Hopefully there’s more of that to come. Maybe we’ll see an increase in both time on the court and production.
Finally Aaron Moesch, the better of the two Aaron’s at the Kohl Center on Tuesday night, was on the court for a very long time.
Thanks to Reuvers picking up four fouls, the former walk-on got his opportunity and ran with it. You know he won’t be taking any of that for granted and he’ll continue to push and prove why he belongs in the rotation when Wisconsin plays Rutgers Friday night.