Thursday, February 29, 2024

Rutgers must finish the season on a positive note

photo courtesy of USA Today

Rutgers must finish the season on a positive note.

by Mark Remsa

It was only 11 days ago when the college basketball community was discussing the notion that Rutgers basketball was back in the NCAA Tournament conversation. After all, Rutgers was playing its best basketball of the season and reeled off four big wins in a row, including two road wins and a blowout of previously 11th-ranked Wisconsin. Rutgers had done so well, newcomer Jeremiah Williams earned Big Ten Player of the Week for averaging 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists in the Scarlet Knights’ wins over Maryland and Wisconsin.

During the Scarlet Knights’ four-game winning streak, Rutgers played with energy, emotion, and for what felt like the first time this season they were actually having fun on the court.

Continue reading this article on The Knight Report on Rivals.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Rutgers' elite defense will be key for potential upset of Purdue

photo courtesy of NJ Advance Media

If Rutgers wants to pull off an incredible upset of #3 Purdue, they need to play elite defense.

by Mark Remsa

Rutgers’ March Madness chances are hanging by a thread and now the margin for error is extremely slim, but a win at 3rd-ranked Purdue on Thursday could go a long way and put the Scarlet Knights in a better position.

So, how will Rutgers be able to pull off the unthinkable in one of the toughest and most grueling atmospheres in all of college hoops on Thursday?

It’s simple.

Rutgers needs to play elite defense.

All season long, Rutgers has relied heavily on its defense to win games and to compensate for the poor offense.

Yes, the offense has been horrible for most of the season, but during the Scarlet Knights’ recent four-game winning streak, the defense has been off the charts good.

As a matter of fact, the defense was so good, for about two weeks in a row Rutgers was the “best” defensive team in all of college basketball, according to KenPom. Currently, Rutgers ranks as the nation’s 2nd best team in adjusted defensive efficiency, behind Houston and ahead of Iowa State.

Continue reading this article on The Knight Report on Rivals.

Friday, February 9, 2024

Jeremiah Williams providing a big lift for Rutgers

photo courtesy of USA Today

After overcoming a serious Achilles injury in the offseason and ruled eligible to play by the NCAA as of last week, the transfer guard made his debut and has given Rutgers basketball life.

by Mark Remsa

It was only nine days ago when Rutgers suffered an embarrassing 15-point home loss, perhaps the worst of the season, to lowly Penn State in front of an electric crowd at The RAC. Rutgers played its worst basketball and the backcourt proved to be no match for Penn State as Rutgers’ guards committed a combined 11 turnovers, caving under pressure to the Nittany Lions defense.

Desperate to end a three-game skid, Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell began searching for answers and ways for his team to win going forward. He certainly found them in transfer guard Jeremiah Williams.

After not playing for nearly two years due to an Achilles injury and finally being ruled eligible to play by the NCAA, Jeremiah Williams returned to the hardwood and became the catalyst behind Rutgers’ most recent back-to-back road wins against Michigan and Maryland.

The veteran guard never missed a step in his first game back in action this past Saturday against Michigan as Pikiell immediately inserted Williams into the starting lineup with Derek Simpson, Jamichael Davis, Mawot Mag, and Cliff Omoruyi.

The move by Pikiell turned out to be a brilliant one.

It was a surprising move to say the least but Pikiell knows his team best. After all, Williams had been practicing with the team since the summer. The Knight Report's very own Richie Schnyderite had been highly impressed with Williams after watching him in-person during several preseason workouts leading up to the season.

Williams showed very little signs of rust and played 30 minutes, scored 10 points, generated 2 assists, and grabbed 6 rebounds. Williams showed confidence on the floor and was fearless while under control when attacking the basket. Williams used his speed to help dictate pace in transition and also distributed the basketball with crisp ball movement and making smart decisions.

In his second game of the season, Williams helped engineer an improbable road victory over Maryland as the Chicago native scored 14 points, shot 5/9 from the field, drilled two clutch 3-point shots, remained perfect from the free-throw line, grabbed five rebounds, and was a defensive pest, hounding the Terrapins on virtually every possession.

With 34 seconds left in regulation, Williams scored on the most important layup of the game with 0.1 seconds left on the shot-clock to give Rutgers a 54-51 lead, which ultimately helped propel the Scarlet Knights to victory.

What was also remarkable about Williams’ play against Maryland was his ability to play hard-nosed, unrelenting defense with four personal fouls for 11 minutes in the second half, and never fouling out of the game.

After the game, Maryland head coach Kevin Willard spoke highly of Williams adding, “their [Rutgers] addition of Jeremiah Williams totally changes their team.”

Since Williams’ return this past week, Rutgers has played noticeably better. The offense may not be significantly improved, but Williams is showing veteran leadership on the floor and he’s helping those around him rise to a higher level as his teammates have fed off of his energy.

Williams has been instrumental in helping create plays and opportunities for scoring by utilizing his awareness and vision, something the backcourt has been lacking in the games before him. His ability to navigate the lanes has also helped Mawot Mag and Cliff Omoruyi receive passes closer to the basket with better looks to score.

Not only has Williams been a big boost on the offensive end, but he’s been key in helping Rutgers defend opposing teams’ guards better by quickly moving on ball handlers with suffocating pressure and providing defensive help with his teammates to force turnovers.

With only nine games remaining in the regular season, Steve Pikiell and Rutgers will need every bit out of Williams to help Rutgers possibly go on an improbable run and possibly earn a postseason berth.

Thursday, February 8, 2024

NET Rankings of Rutgers' Opponents (thru 2/8)

photo courtesy of USA Today

NET Rankings of Rutgers' Opponents (thru 2/8)

Here are the NET Rankings of Rutgers opponents for games played through February 8th. Rutgers currently sits at 98 in the NET Rankings as they are 12-10 overall and are 4-7 in the Big Ten. Rutgers has four Quadrant 1 games, three Quadrant 2 games, and two Quadrant 3 games remaining on their schedule. If Rutgers wants to dream of a postseason berth, whether it's the NCAA Tournament or the NIT, they need to take care of business and pick up some wins against some of their remaining quality opponents. Rutgers could be in very good shape if they can get to 17-11 by the end of February.

Rutgers has four Quadrant 1 games remaining on their schedule including road contests against Purdue (2/22), Nebraska (3/3), and Wisconsin (3/7). Rutgers only one remaining Quadrant 1 game at home is against Wisconsin (2/10).

Rutgers has three Quadrant 2 games remaining on their schedule including two home games against Northwestern (2/15) and Ohio State (3/10). Rutgers has only one remaining Quadrant 2 road game against Minnesota (2/18).

Rutgers has two Quadrant 3 games remaining on their schedule including home games against Maryland (2/25) and Michigan (2/29).

For a complete listing of the NET Rankings please click here.

Rutgers' Record in Each Quadrant

  • Quadrant 1: 1-8
  • Quadrant 2: 3-1
  • Quadrant 3: 2-1
  • Quadrant 4: 6-0

NET Rankings of Rutgers' Opponents
Nov. 6, vs Princeton*, L (52, Q2)
Nov. 10, Boston U.*, W (302, Q4)
Nov. 12, Bryant*, W (157, Q3)
Nov. 15, Georgetown*, W (191, Q4)
Nov. 18, Howard*, W (258, Q4)
Nov. 27, Saint Peter's*, W (217, Q4)
Dec. 2, Illinois, L (13, Q1)
Dec. 6, at Wake Forest*, L (33, Q1)
Dec. 9, at Seton Hall*, W (66, Q1)
Dec. 16, Long Island*, W (356, Q4)
Dec. 23, vs Mississippi State*, L (44, Q1)
Dec. 30, Stonehill*, W (350, Q4)
Jan. 3, at Ohio State, L (72, Q1)
Jan. 6, at Iowa, L (60, Q1)
Jan. 9, Indiana, W (97, Q3)
Jan. 14, at Michigan State, L (24, Q1)
Jan. 17, Nebraska, W (57, Q2)
Jan. 21, at Illinois, L (13, Q1)
Jan. 28, Purdue, L (2, Q1)
Jan. 31, Penn State, L (100, Q3)
Feb. 3, at Michigan, W (104, Q2)
Feb. 6, at Maryland, W (82, Q2)
Feb. 10, Wisconsin (15, Q1)
Feb. 15, Northwestern (55, Q2)
Feb. 18, at Minnesota (83, Q2)
Feb. 22, at Purdue (2, Q1)
Feb. 25, Maryland (82, Q3)
Feb. 29, Michigan (104, Q3)
Mar. 3, at Nebraska (57, Q1)
Mar. 7, at Wisconsin (15, Q1)
Mar. 10, Ohio State (72, Q2)
Q1 home games are highlighted in yellow
Q1 road games are highlighted in green
Q1 neutral site games are highlighted in blue
* non-conference game

"On The Call" with Bryan DeNovellis (former sports anchor for News12 New Jersey & current host of the Tri-State College Basketball Podcast)

Stream the latest episode of "On The Call" with Bryan DeNovellis (former sports anchor for News12 New Jersey & current host of the Tri-State College Basketball Podcast) on YouTube or Spotify.

  • "On The Call" with Bryan DeNovellis - Episode 9, 2/7/2024 - Rutgers Hoops Insider interviews special guest Bryan DeNovellis (former sports anchor for News12 New Jersey & current host of the Tri-State College Basketball Podcast) to discuss Rutgers' massive back-to-back road wins over Michigan and Maryland, Jeremiah Williams' emergence, having the number 2 rated defense in the nation, the backcourt's contributions, Mawot Mag rising, Gavin Griffiths struggles, preview for the game against Wisconsin, and what Rutgers must do to get back into the postseason hunt.
  • Please check out Bryan's podcast at