Sunday, December 8, 2019 at 7:00pm EST
Written by Nick Cowie
The Big Ten season kicks off this Sunday when the Rutgers Scarlet Knights go to visit the No. 11 Michigan St. Spartans. Rutgers comes into this one off a loss to Pittsburgh in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, but they have looked solid out of the gate, posting a 6-2 record. As the season has progress, Rutgers has looked more and more dominant against lower-level opposition, suggesting that they may be improving just in time for the Big Ten season. Michigan State has a less appealing record of 5-3, but their losses came to Kentucky, Virginia Tech, and Duke. The losses are certainly not ideal, but they are nothing to panic about.
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Rutgers shows signs of improvement
Since joining the Big Ten, Rutgers has been somewhat of a break for other teams in the conference. They have not seen a winning Big Ten record since joining and can always be found near the bottom of the standings. This season, they look to be improving, stringing together dominant wins over Stephen F. Austin, NJIT, and UMass before losing to Pittsburgh by 11. Of course, none of those teams are world-beaters, but Rutgers handled them all by double figures and the latter two by over 20. In all three wins, the Scarlet Knights did not allow their opponents to reach the 60 point mark. That defense which is allowing an average of 61.2 points per game, will need to hold stronger than ever to have any chance against the Spartans.
To keep up with a team as dominant as Michigan St. the offense will have to do its job as well. Rutgers' downfall in the past has been a great defense and very little offense. They seem to be inching away from that this season, putting up an average of 73.9 points per game through their first eight. With a 47 percent team field goal percentage despite below-average three-point shooting, they have shown very good shot selection. Ron Harper Jr.
has led the way with 13.3 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. His 52 percent field goal percentage is just the kind of consistency Rutgers needs to make the most of their offensive opportunities on Sunday.
We currently do not have a prediction for this team, check back closer to the game day!