Rutgers opens conference play in College Park tonight for a matchup with Maryland. The Scarlet Knights are 4-0, passing their first “test” of the season after beating Syracuse 79-69 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Terrapins, however, did not fare as well, losing a lopsided contest to Clemson, 67-51.
Rutgers needs to get off on the right foot in the Big Ten. This is by far their most favorable matchup before Christmas, as they’ll host #6 Illinois in Piscataway on Sunday, followed by a trip to Columbus to take on #22 Ohio State on 12/23.
While the Scarlet Knights took care of business against Syracuse, it wasn’t their best game. Thankfully, returners like Ron Harper jr., Myles Johnson, and Jacob Young carried the scoring load to seal the deal down the stretch. However, heading into conference play, Rutgers is going to need some of their freshmen to make an impact. Starting center Cliff Omoruyi will look to bounce back tonight. Oskar Palmquist, Dean Reiber, and Mawot Mag will also be relied upon to give quality minutes off the bench.
On paper, the Scarlet Knights are clearly the better team. But in the Big Ten, anyone can win on a given night. However, I do see one clear advantage for Rutgers heading into tonight’s matchup.
If Hansel n’ Griddle isn’t the pregame meal of champions, then I don’t know what is.