This historically bad season for Rutgers will likely come to an end later tonight. The Scarlet Knights were under 300 in Kenpom before they finally picked up a Big 10 win against Minnesota on Saturday. If you forget the first 30 games Rutgers is 1-0 with a twenty-point win against a Big Ten foe on their resume. Unfortunately for RU, they lost 24 out of those first 30 games, including 0-17 in the conference. Two of those losses came by 34 and 24 to the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Kenpom is giving Rutgers a 14 percent chance to pull off the upset.
To put in perspective just how bad Rutgers really has been this year, just consider that they are 13 point underdogs in this one. Nebraska is 11th in the Big Ten, this isn't a first place team we are talking about.
Nebraska has been cold as of late, losing five in a row entering the conference tournament. The Cornhuskers finished 6-12 on the year in conference play and will make it two years in a row watching the big dance at home barring a miracle run. The good news for Nebraska is Shavon Shields who was named to the second team all Big Ten on Monday.
Other than that, and a stunning win in East Lansing, it has been a pretty brutal year. Although, Nebraska encountered two three-game losing streaks early in conference play, and both times, Rutgers provided them with the win to break the streak.
The game between two of the newer members of the conference shouldn’t be that close as Rutgers has been called the worst power conference team in the last few decade. The one bright spot for the Scarlet Knights has been freshmen point guard Corey Sanders. The Lakeland, Florida product has averaged 16.2 points a game in his freshmen year and should be a building block if a turnaround ever happens. It will take a Kemba like run from Sanders for Rutgers to have a chance in this one as well as moving forward.
Rutgers needs a lot more than just a great performance from their freshmen point guard to steal one today. For starters they will need to defend better. In the two games against Nebraska they lost by a combined 58 points, they gave up 90 and 87 respectively that won't get the job done in this one.
A victory on Wednesday would allow Nebraska to defeat the same opponent three times in the same season for the first time since sweeping Oklahoma in 1991.
For Nebraska, Andrew White a KU transfer is a guy to keep an eye on in this one as he averaged over 24 points a game in the two games against Rutgers during the regular season. It should be a field day for the whole Nebraska team and a chance to pick up another win for their resume, an NIT resume at best.
This could be the end of the Eddie Jordan era in New Jersey and to say it was a failure would be an understatement. Jordan has a 29-67 record through three years at his Alma mater and the future aside from Sanders doesn't look bright. It will be interesting to see how things shake out, to say the least.
The winner of this contest will face No. 6 seed Wisconsin in second-round action on Thursday.