KenPom: 207th overall (191st Offense, 219th Defense)
Head Coach: Eddie Jordan
2013-'14 Record: 8-11
Coming off what could have been UConn's best performance of the year against Temple in a half empty XL center, the Huskies look to continue their momentum in the armpit of the AAC and the soon-to-be rectum of the BIG at Rutgers. I know I speak for nearly all UConn fans when I say this is joyfully the last time the Huskies play a conference game at the RAC.
Rutgers, 8-11 (2-4), just endured a Texas trip that Connecticut fans can relate to as both teams have gone 0-2 in trips to Houston and SMU. Eddie Jordan has taken over a program that is in shambles after the Mike Rice disaster, and does not have his basketball team looking ready for a move to the BIG. Although the Scarlet Knights' record and talent are sub-par, this is not a game for UConn to sleep on as RU will be more than motivated to earn a signature win to squander a nearly lost season.
There are definitely a few intriguing story lines to look for Saturday at 7 o'clock. DeAndre Daniels is coming off a career night against Temple, posting a career high 31 points and 12 rebounds. Daniels is showing severe Jeremy Lamb-like symptoms of inconsistency, as he was pivotal in a win at Memphis, nearly invisible against Louisville, and once again dominant against Temple. Here's to hoping the trend ends at the RAC. He will be matched up against inferior athletes by the likes of 6-9 forwards Kadeem Jack and Wally Judge (fantastic names). Both these forwards lead their team in rebounding, and with DeAndre's ability to stretch the floor, UConn should be able to exploit the space by penetration and some of our new-and-improved offensive rebounding.
Rutgers does have a good scorer in Myles Mack (5-9), but he should be contained by the ball pressure of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright, returning from an emotional trip Chicago after the murder of his cousin. Speaking of Napier, seeing him attack right away in last weeks Temple game was not something we had seen from him yet this year (looking to score early and often against an inferior opponent). If he continues to do that on Saturday night, UConn should be in great shape. Our big men (Brimah, Nolan, Olander) did not have much of an impact in Tuesday's game, and Rutgers is not an awful rebounding team (80th in the country). The developement of our center postion (Brimah, specifically) is something to watch for in every game from now until the end of the season as it could make the difference between being a good team and a great team.
An away conference game is always a challenge no matter the opponent, but I see UConn prevailing here relatively comfortably in the end, in most part because Shabazz Napier is done waiting till the 2nd half of games to attack opposing defenses.
Prediction: UConn 82, Rutgers 67