When: 7:00 PM ET, January 30th, 2019
Where: Rutgers Athletic Center
Now losers of six straight games, the Indiana Hoosiers (12-8, 3-6) will be handed the tough task of trying to get back on track on the road. The losing streak is the Hoosiers longest since the 2010-11 season, and a road trip to New Jersey to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (10-9, 3-6) in a must-win game has Indiana’s backs firmly against the wall.
Indiana is catching Rutgers at the wrong time, as the Scarlet Knights have now won consecutive Big Ten games for the first time this season, knocking off Nebraska at home and Penn State on the road. The Scarlet Knights will be looking to secure their 3rd straight win for just the 2nd time this season, and Rutgers Athletic Center has never been an easy venue to play in.
Rutgers is fronted by Junior forward Eugene Omoruyi, who leads the team in both scoring and rebounding at 13.9 and 7.2 apiece. Joining Omoryui in the frontcourt is Senior big man Shaquille Doorson who possesses impressive size, an area Indiana has struggled to deal with, at 7’0 tall and 275 pounds. Doorson does not contribute much offensively but is 12th in the Big Ten in block percentage and is currently converting 62.8% of his attempts.
In the backcourt, Geo Baker is the go-to option currently coming in 2nd on the team in points per game at 13.5, along with leading the team in assists at 4.1 per game. Baker, however, has struggled to find a consistent rhythm through the season, as he is shooting just 36.4% from the field and is averaging nearly three turnovers per game as well.
Joining Baker in the backcourt is Freshmen shooting guard Montez Mathis. Mathis’ focuses on getting to the rim, and currently possesses the 14th highest Free Throw rate in the conference. However, he struggles shooting the ball, managing just 25.0% on threes and 63.8% on free-throws. Rounding out the backcourt for Rutgers is another freshman, Ron Harper Jr., the son of former NBA player Ron Harper. Harper possesses good size at 6’6 230 pounds but has had a tough time adjusting to the college game, shooting just 33.9% from the field along with just 23.3% from behind the arc.
Looking at the team statistics, Rutgers has struggled to find an identity for itself. In most major statistics, the Scarlet Knights find themselves near the bottom of the conference. In-fact Rutgers is one of only two Big Ten teams with a worse efficiency margin than Indiana during conference play, a statistic that should be reason for optimism and alarm for Hoosier fans.
While Indiana’s struggles have been well documented, the season is not a lost cause. Indiana still finds itself in the tournament in the most recently Bracketology, mostly due to their lack of a bad quadrant loss so far this season. However, a loss against Rutgers would change that and would put Indiana firmly on the outside looking in. On paper, this is a matchup that Indiana should have no business losing. Unfortunately, Indiana has faced many problems recently that can’t be solved on paper.