On Sunday evening, Rutgers and Wisconsin faced off in what appeared to be an underwhelming game on paper, but proved to be a thriller with Rutgers pulling off their first win over a Top 5 ranked team in the school's history against an undermanned Wisconsin.
During the game, Wisconsin took control early off some great play from Nigel Hayes, but Rutgers played well early in the 2nd Half to get within striking distance and then took the lead with just over 7 minutes left. Finally, in the last few minutes, the teams exchanged big shots, but it wasn't enough for the Badgers to come back. At the buzzer, Rutgers pulled off the monumental upset and stormed the court.
So what did we learn?
What We Learned
Don't Overlook Rutgers
For much of the offseason and non-conference play, many in the media overlooked Rutgers and wrote them off to having a rebuilding year. In fact, in the majority of Power Rankings on this site, Rutgers has been the unanimous pick at #14 in the rankings. The Scarlet Knights were just not taken seriously. However, the team has put together some decent play and did recently upset Penn State. They have quality players like Kadeem Jack and Myles Mack and have the potential to pull off upsets, regardless of what many believe. This team is still a long way from competiting on a consistent basis and beating quality opponents on the road, but Rutgers has potential with Eddie Jordan and should not be overlooked this season.
Sam Dekker vs. Kadeem Jack Was One-Sided, But Not The Way Many Predicted
With Frank Kaminsky out for Sunday's game, most pointed to Sam Dekker as the player who would have to step up if the Badgers were going to secure the road win. For much of the game, he went head-to-head with Kadeem Jack. Many thought Dekker would have the advantage here, but over the course of the game, that proved wildly inaccurate. Jack ended up with 20 points, 4 rebounds, and some devastating plays over Dekker including a late drive to the hoop where he beat Dekker in a one-on-one matchup. Dekker certainly did fine with his 15 points, but it was not enough to carry Wisconsin and certainly not enough to validate him as an All-Big Ten player right now.
Wisconsin Needs Frank Kaminsky
There has been no doubt that Frank Kaminsky has been the primary piece for Wisconsin this season, but it was never as obvious as when the Badgers faced Rutgers. If Wisconsin is going to compete on a consistent basis and look like a Top 5 team, they absolutely need Kaminsky on the floor. Obviously, this will not come as a surprise, but many profiled the Badgers as having next to no weaknesses before the season started. On Sunday night, this was put to bed as Wisconsin lost to a heavily overmatched opponent without Traevon Jackson and Frank Kaminsky. A team with no weaknesses and that much depth does not lose to a team like Rutgers. With Kaminsky back in the near future, this will likely not be as big of a concern, but it's something to keep in mind as Wisconsin faces bigger opponents.
This was a massive win for Rutgers and something that has the potential to change the entire direction of their program going forward. For Wisconsin, this is a hit that is going to make them have to work harder to win the Big Ten, but is not that foretelling as they were without two key players. Still, a great game for college basketball.