With Rutgers Set to Host St. John’s, Program at a Cross-Roads
Added by Greg Rappaport on January 23, 2013.
Rutgers and head coach Mike Rice host St. John's tonight at the RAC. (US-Presswire)
With a 12-5 record (3-3 Big East), Rutgers is set to take on conference foe St. Johns (11-7, 3-3 Big East) this evening at 7:30 P.M. The last time these teams clashed, it was a nail-biting affair that saw the Scarlet Knights eek out a 58-56 victory.
The victory seemed to be a huge step forward for Rutgers, who appeared to be getting on a roll. However, in the three games following the St. John’s win, the Knights have dropped two of — both to ranked opponents (#20 Notre Dame and #21 Cincinnati).
The loss to Cincinnati—which looks to be a top four team in the Big East—was hardly a close affair. While the final score was only a ten-point loss for Rutgers, the largest lead of the game was 18. Rutgers guard Eli Carter shot an abysmal 1-11 from the field, and as most Rutgers fans know, if Carter isn’t scoring, a win will be hard to come by.
The loss to Notre Dame was a much closer affair, with a 69-66 final score in the Irish’s favor. In this contest, Carter shot the lights out with a 9-15 performance. However, it was Carter’s ill-fated drive to the basket with less than a minute to play that ended up being whistled as a charge, essentially sealing the victory for the Irish.
The loss to Notre Dame does not bode well for the Knights as ND has only won one of their last four games since starting off the season with an impressive 14-1 record.
It is still the point of the season in which teams are swiftly jumping from contenders to pretenders, and Rutgers must capture some wins if they wish to be viewed as the former. Their schedule is doing them no favors in that regard. Following the St. John’s game tonight, they go on a two game road trip to play Connecticut and #21 Cincinnati. As if that isn’t tough enough, they will have to face #5 ranked Louisville February 6th. It would be a surprise if head coach Mike Rice and the Knights walk away winning just two of the four games ahead of them. If Rutgers continues to sputter amidst their Big East schedule, than it may be all she wrote for the Knights.
Coach Rice is infamous for standing almost the entire game, but perhaps that’s because his seat is heating up. In the wake of his ignominious suspension earlier this season, it’s hard to imagine Rutgers retaining him as head coach if the Knights finish the season in the basement of the Big East—again. Especially since RU recently agreed to join the Big Ten, a conference whose current basketball prowess makes the Big East look like a YMCA league. Just look at the national rankings, the Big Ten has five teams in the top fifteen. The Big East only has two (Louisville and Syracuse) and Louisville is dropping faster than a plane piloted by Denzel Washington following their two consecutive losses. Will the Big Ten need to build a new basement just for the likes of Rutgers when they join?
If Rutgers does indeed drop their rematch to St. John’s tonight, then it’s likely all out panic mode in New Brunswick. However, if they win, it will be interesting to see if they can compete with the rest of the Big East for the remainder of the season—something they must do if they want to hold onto any hope of dancing come March.