Hoosiers Travel to Rutgers to Face Defensive-Minded Scarlet Knights

Malik Reneau, Indiana University Men's Basketball
Malik Reneau, Indiana University Men's Basketball / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

The Hoosiers, fresh off a big win vs. Ohio State, travel to New Jersey today to take on Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights, 8-6 overall and 0-3 in the Big Ten, have have struggled in the 2023-2024 season as evidenced by their record. Those struggles have primarily been on the offensive side of the ball, as they currently rank 312th in points per game per college basketball reference. Overall, Rutgers ranks 90th in the KenPom Rankings (somehow a spot ahead of Indiana).

The leading scorer for the Scarlet Knights is Aundre Hyatt who is averaging 11.9 points per game. Right beneath him in the team's scoring hierarchy is 6'11" Center Clifford Omoruyi and his 10.7 points per game. Rutgers does not have an overall scoring star on their team, but thankfully for them Indiana has displayed a pattern of giving up significant numbers to opposing guards. Keep an eye on the starting backcourt pairing of Derek Simpson (9.7 PPG and 2.9 APG) and Noah Hernandes (8.3 PPG and 2.1 APG). Neither of those guys strikes much fear in the hearts of opposing defenses, but anything can happen on any given night when it comes to the Hoosiers' perimeter defense.

Indiana is coming off a back and forth game with Ohio State. When the final horn sounded, the Hoosiers came out on top and pushed their conference record to 3-1. 3-point shooting was a concern early in the season, but for the most part has gradually improved in recent memory. Surprisingly, Malik Reneau has been the main catalyst in flipping that script. The sophomore stud has shot a scorching 62.5% (10/16) from the Kansas game on.

This season, Reneau has proven to be a great inside asset along with Kel’el Ware, but his recent improvements as a shooter have opened a whole new level of potential within his individual game. Since the opening whistle of that heartbreaking loss to Kansas, Reneau has turned his game up a notch, averaging 19.2 points per game while leapfrogging his frontcourt mate Ware as the team's leading scorer (and overall best player). Assuming he can avoid foul trouble, expect him to have another solid evening. Ware's strong performance early in the season has tapered off a bit, but he is still a nightly supplier of 14.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks on the year.

Jan 6, 2024; Bloomington, Indiana, USA; Indiana Hoosiers center Kel'el Ware (1) dunks the ball past
Jan 6, 2024; Bloomington, Indiana, USA; Indiana Hoosiers center Kel'el Ware (1) dunks the ball past / Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

The Scarlet Knights are a solid defensive team but are lacking a bit in the size department. They also struggle to hit outside shots (29%) but do not hesitate to chuck from distance. In the all-time series between the two schools, the teams have won 8 games apiece. With that in mind, Rutgers has come out on top in 8 of the last 10 matchups and Indiana have encountered difficulty pulling out wins when traveling to Jersey Mike's arena (3-4 all-time on the road versus the Knights). The teams split their season series 1-1 last season.

Tonight's game kicks off at 7 PM EST, and you can stream the game live on Peacock. Our fingers are crossed for an Indiana dub.

Go Hoosiers!