We love being bold here at BT Powerhouse. We use bold headlines. We make bold statements. Fortune favors the bold, but more importantly, page views favor the bold.
You know what's really bold? Writing a Rutgers basketball article while the whole campus is jacked up to pound a reeling Michigan team on the gridiron this weekend. That's just the kind of website we are, though. Here's five things that could possibly go right for Rutgers this year (because projecting this team to fail is anything but bold), but probably won't.
Rutgers will only lose two games before New Year's Day.
After breaking down the Knights' non-conference schedule, I've discovered that there are some tough games on the slate, but nothing too difficult. The opener against George Washington is a possible loss, as are road games at Clemson and Seton Hall. There's also the Barclay's Classic to worry about, including a possible matchup with Virginia. However, with the returns of Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack, I think Rutgers will defeat George Washington as well as its first opponent in Brooklyn. A win in Newark against the rival Pirates leaves only a pair of defeats on the schedule. That's an optimistic projection, but we're just getting into October here.
Rutgers will have just as many wins in the Big Ten this season as it had in the AAC last season.
The Knights won just five games in what turned out to be a pretty decent AAC last season. Even with Temple having a down year, Louisville, Memphis, UConn, and SMU made the makeshift league a force to be reckoned with. So Rutgers's schedule isn't growing in difficulty as much as some think. A solid returning roster and some talented newcomers will help the Knights tread water, and two games each against Penn State and Purdue don't hurt either.
Shaquille Doorson gets immediate consideration for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
The four-star center from the Netherlands is a much more talented prospect than Rutgers fans are used to, but recruiting has picked up since Eddie Jordan stepped in following the Mike Rice debacle. Doorson arrives on campus just in time to take the place of graduating big man Wally Judge, so there should be playing time available. The problem won't be blocking shots for the athletic Doorman, but staying on the court. Rutgers struggled with fouling all season in 2013-14, and Judge in particular averaged more than six fouls per 40 minutes. If Doorson can avoid a similar fate, he could have a major impact.
Kadeem Jack will lead the Big Ten in rebounding.
The good news for Rutgers fans is, if this one doesn't come true, it probably means that Doorson is getting a lot of playing time. If the freshman doesn't see too much of the floor, Jack will have all the more opportunity to grab misses. As one of Rutgers' top scorers, he'll see a lot of playing time regardless of what happens with the younger players, and while Jack's rebounding rates aren't elite, he may have more opportunities thanks to the Knights' poor shooting percentages. Only three Big Ten returning players averaged more rebounds per game than Jack last season.
Junior Etou will break out and become a nightly double-double threat.
Etou averaged 5.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last season as a freshman while playing just 23 minutes per contest. Naturally, he will be a superstar in 2014-15. Okay, that's not how things work, but it does work that way when we're trying to be bold. Seroiusly, Etou has the athleticism to be something special, and he should continue to grab rebounds at a steady rate. I'm more worried about him developing into a consistent scorer. He hit double digits in just fives games last year, and he scored just four points combined in Rutgers's two-game AAC Tournament run.