The No. 7 Michigan Wolverines will travel to New Jersey to face off against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Tuesday after suffering their second loss of the season.
Michigan is seeking redemption after losing to Iowa on Friday while Rutgers is hoping to build confidence after a winning three of its last four games. Here is a preview, and a prediction for this battle between these two teams.
What: No. 7 Michigan (20-2, 9-2) vs. Rutgers (11-10, 4-7)
When: Tuesday, February 5, 8:00 PM EST on Big Ten Network
Where: Rutgers Athletic Center, Rutgers University
Keys to Victory for Michigan
Michigan has the had one of the top defenses in the nation. However, against Iowa, the Wolverines’ main issue was shooting. To go on another winning streak, the Wolverines must return to top offensive shape.
As of late, Zavier Simpson has been carrying the Michigan offense. He had a triple-double against Ohio State and a near triple-double versus Iowa. It is safe to say that he will do his part in this upcoming matchup. Additionally, his playmaking ability to find open teammates is elite, but the shooting struggles of the team as a whole are hindering the offense. On defense, he causes most havoc for opposing offenses and is never caught taking a quick break on defense.
As for the rest of John Beilein’s club, Michigan also requires that Charles Matthews steps up. He is the only senior on the team and needs to perform at a higher level not only for the team but also from himself and his potential NBA future. For example, in the loss to Iowa, Jordan Poole and Ignas “Iggy” Brazdeikis both notched 16-points meanwhile Matthews tallied just six points on 2-of-12 shooting.
Keys to Victory for Rutgers
Rutgers is not at the same level as Iowa or Wisconsin, thus, scoring off turnovers is the only way the Scarlet Knights can counter Michigan’s top-notch defense because it enables them to rack up points before the Wolverines can set up their defensive schemes.
Furthermore, Rutgers’ standout player is Eugene Omoruyi, who is averaging 14.2 points-per-game and 7.2 rebounds-per-game this season.
The only way the Scarlet Knights can pull of the upset is by having Omoruyi score well over his season average and produce a double-double. He will most likely need to drop at least 20-points to go along with 10-rebounds.
Additionally, Geo Baker is managing Rutgers in assists and steals, with 4.0 assists-per-game and 1.5 assists-per-game. Thus, he must find his teammates and warm them up, so they can have a significant impact on the game.
Therefore, Rutgers’ fate lies on the hand on Eugene Omoruyi and Geo Baker. Paired with solid defense from the entire team, these two can then focus on scoring and passing to give the Scarlet Knights a chance at stealing a victory away from the Maize and Blue.
All in all, everything must be perfect for Rutgers to win. The Scarlet Knights will stay close with the Wolverines five minutes before halftime. From this moment on, Michigan will be locked in and focus themselves for the remainder of the match. Also, after losing their second game of the season uncharacteristically, the Wolverines will look to redeem themselves and show their fans they are the same team that started 17-0.
Final Score: Michigan 72 – Rutgers 58
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