GameDay Preview: Indiana at Rutgers
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — It's very hard to win on the road in the Big Ten this year, but away games have been particular unkind to Indiana so far.
The Hoosiers are 3-0 at home in the league, but have been walloped on both road trips, losing at Wisconsin and Maryland in games where they trailed by 30 points or more at some time in the second half. The Hoosiers are 3-1 in Piscataway since Rutgers joined the league, but this Scarlet Knights team is much improved and a threat to make the NCAA Tournament this year.
Here are the particulars:
- Who: Indiana Hoosiers (13-3, 3-2 in Big Ten) vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (12-4, 3-2 in Big Ten)
- When: 7 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Jan. 15
- Where: Rutgers Athletic Center, Piscataway, N.J.
- Line: Rutgers is a 3.5-point favorite, per VegasInsider.com.
- Poll rankings: Neither team is ranked in the AP and Coaches top-25 polls, but both are receiving votes. Indiana is 29th in both polls, and Rutgers would be No. 39 in AP and No. 34 in the Coaches poll.
- Kenpom.com rankings: Indiana is No. 35, moving up nine spots after beating Ohio State last Saturday. Rutgers is No. 33.
- TV: Big Ten Network
- Announcers: Kevin Kugler, Brian Butch
- Radio: Indiana Radio Network
- Announcers: Don Fischer, Eric Suhr, Joe Smith
Here are three things you should know about Rutgers:
1. Physical defense can cause problems
Rutgers has always defended well under Steve Pikiell, and because they have so many long bodies, they are tough to score against. They are a top-15 teams is several categories and they force you out of your stuff on the offensive end.
The Hoosiers have struggled at times getting the ball inside to freshman Trayce Jackson-Davis and Joey Brunk, and they'll get tested in a big way again on Wednesday night. The Hoosiers have had long stretches of struggling to score while on the road, and they need to avoid the same thing happening against the Scarlet Knights.
2. A different team without Geo Baker
Rutgers guard Geo Baker has been out since the first of the year with a broken thumb. The Scarlet Knights have won twice without him — home against Penn State and at Nebraska — but lost at Illinois. He's their best player and probably won't be back until early February.
Baker has been a finisher for Pikiell, so it will be interesting to see who takes the big shots down the stretch if Wednesday's game is close. He is second in scoring and leads the team in minutes, assists and steals. Sophomore Caleb McConnell has played well in Baker’s absence, but the loss also has shrunk their bench at the guard spot. Ron Harper Jr,, the team's leading scorer, has been picking up the slack.
3. Not a great 3-point shooting team
Rutgers is big and physical and likes to play in inside, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that they don't shoot 3-pointers particularly well. The Scarlet Knights make only 29.8 percent of their long balls, which ranks No. 312 in the country out of 353 teams.
Rutgers is undefeated at home though, winning all 11 games at the RAC this season, and they shoot much better at home, too, which isn't uncommon.