Rutgers Scarlet Knights
KenPom: 176 (144th Offense, 219th Defense)
2013-14 Record: 11-18 (5-11)
Head Coach: Eddie Jordan
In the last home game of the season for the UConn, the Huskies find themselves comfortably in the tournament with ample opportunity to improve seeding. Last Saturday, UConn outlasted the then-11th ranked Cincinnati Bearcats despite not scoring a field goal in the last 7:46 of the game. It was possibly their best defensive effort of the season, and when shots aren't falling, UConn showed they can dig deep and never give in. Tonight though, UConn shouldn't have nearly as much trouble getting the ball through the hoop as they finds themselves against the 219th ranked defense according to KenPom in what will be a rocking Gampel Pavilion.
In one of the more celebrated senior classes in some time, Shabazz Napier, Niels Giffey, Tyler Olander, Lasan Kromah, and Tor Watts will start off the evening with some emotion. Luckily, UConn will have to quickly make the transition from what will be an extremely sentimental first 10 minutes of the evening to playing a game of basketball against a team that has beaten only UCF, USF, Houston and Temple in over 2 months. Rutgers has had a very disappointing year in their one and only season in the AAC. Their team is essentially made up of formidable 6th men on other tournament teams. Myles Mack (15.3 ppg), Kadeem Jack (14.6 ppg), and J.J. Moore (11.1 ppg) are their only players who average double figures and the Scarlet Knights don't have a player above 6-9.
In their last meeting, UConn won 81-72 in what was not the prettiest game of the year for the Huskies. Shabazz was vintage Shabazz with 26 points, and Amida Brimah had one of his better games of the year with 10 points and 8 boards. Other things to watch for are Deandre Daniels's game as he was limited to 12 minutes on Saturday due to simply poor play.
This will be the last time I will see Shabazz Napier live in a UConn uniform. I am going to be a mess when he and his mother are at center court holding up his #13 jersey. He has become the next great Husky in front of our eyes over the last 4 years, no matter what happens to the team later this month. All we can do is sit back and enjoy his sweet shooting, creativity, and unwavering leadership on the court tonight. Each senior has left their mark on this program, their mark being something we will harp on more in the coming weeks, but in reality this is a must-win game as we look to position ourselves in the best possible position for Selection Sunday.
UConn: 78 Rutgers: 63