Maine (3-7) at Rutgers (5-5)
How to watch, listen, news and notes
Or: Jersey Mike’s Arena in Piscataway, New Jersey
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Trick : Thursday, December 30 at 1 p.m. ET
TV: Big Ten Network – Jason Horowitz and Jesse Settles
Flux: FOX Sports Live
Radio: Live listening – Rutgers Sports Properties radio network – WCTC 1450 AM / WOR 710 AM – Dom Savino and Austin Johnson; WRSU 88.7 FM
NET Rankings: Rutgers No. 151; Maine n ° 357
KenPom Rankings: Rutgers – No.100, five places down from before a 77-63 loss to Seton Hall on December 12; Maine – No. 351, two better places since a 49-47 loss to Merrimack on December 21.
Efficiency rankings: Rutgers – Attack 102.5 (145th) Defense 95.0 (66th); Maine – Attack 84.3 (356th) Defense 106.6 (296th)
KenPom prediction: Rutgers 71 Maine 49. Rutgers has a 98% chance of winning.
KenPom OTB Guide
Vegas Line: Rutger -24
History of the series: Rutgers leads the all-time series 4-0 dating back to 1924 and the last meeting was a 70-55 victory on December 29, 2018.
To note: Due to the holiday week and Rutgers Football’s unexpected trip to the Gator Bowl, I will be posting consolidated previews with the game feed for this game and Saturday’s game against CCSU.
Overview / Keys to victory:
This team has not played since a disappointing performance against Seton Hall on December 12. They took an extended hiatus due to positive Covid-19 cases in the program and did not train. We don’t know what to expect on Thursday.
The good news is that Maine are one of the worst teams in college basketball, especially on the offensive side. None of their three wins are against Division I opponents. He’s the perfect opponent to play with zero practice time and not have played a match in 18 days. It’s hard to believe Rutgers beat Purdue three weeks ago, looks like three years ago.
Keep it simple in the approach by playing a basically solid defense, avoid taking risks and just keep your man in front and box on the rebounds. The Black Bears are turning it around a lot at a 23.7% rate, so Rutgers should be able to generate takeout without needing to be overly aggressive. Force Maine to shoot from the perimeter. They are 322nd nationally on a two-point range (43.5%) and 358th, which is worst in Division I, at 21.6% on a three-point range. Avoid unnecessary fouls, but expect some to be called out due to the timing and lateral quickness being a slow step.
Offensively, attack the paint and the basket, share the ball and don’t settle for contested jumpers. Opponents shoot 54.2% at two points against them and they rarely block shots.
Conditioning will be an issue, so expect head coach Steve Pikiell to take on everyone on his bench who is available for this game. We don’t know if any players are still out due to Covid protocols, but whoever plays is important for Rutgers to set some type of pace in this game. Things are accelerating rapidly with Michigan arriving at Jersey Mike’s Arena in less than a week.
Don’t worry about the final score, although Rutgers should win easily. It’s really about re-establishing a field team in the game and playing smart basketball together. Hopefully the team can have a solid mental approach and enjoy being back on the pitch as a group. They’ll be back Saturday at 5:00 p.m. against Central Connecticut State, so a large margin of victory on Thursday would be ideal to preserve the top of the rotation and avoid tired legs.
Join us during the action in the comments section.
Enjoy the musical selection of legend Gene Autry with “Back in the Saddle Again”.