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Rutgers Women’s Basketball: Scarlet Knights vs. Iowa Hawkeyes Preview

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights will host the regular-season finale against No. 18 Iowa on Sunday at 12 p.m. at the RAC. The Scarlet Knights will have their fourth opportunity to take down a ranked team this season (0-3 in previous three). The Scarlet Knights will look to win their third consecutive game to close out the regular season. Doing so won’t be easy, though, as Rutgers will face one of its toughest opponents of the season in the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Head-to-Head:

This will be the first meeting of the season between the two teams. Iowa (23-5, 14-3) holds a four-game advantage over Rutgers (20-8, 10-7) in the Big Ten standings. The Hawkeyes lead the all-time series, 8-2, including a victory in the last meeting between the two in the semifinal round of the Big Ten Tournament. Iowa has won eight straight meetings between the two, including all six since Rutgers joined the Big Ten.

In terms of statistics, the two teams could not be more opposite. While the Scarlet Knights thrive on the defensive side of the ball, the Hawkeyes success comes on the offensive end. Iowa is an offensive juggernaut and holds an advantage in points per game, field goal percentage, three-point percentage, and assists per game. Meanwhile, Rutgers has an advantage in every defensive category, including points per game against, steals per game, blocks per game, and rebounds per game. Additionally, the Scarlet Knights turn the ball over less than the Hawkeyes.

Keys to Victory:

Limit the Offense:

Iowa has one of the most dangerous offenses in all of college basketball. The Hawkeyes rank third in field goal percentage, fifth in assists per game, 10th in scoring offense, and 12th in three-point percentage. On the other end, the Scarlet Knights thrive on the defensive end of the ball. Rutgers ranks 14th in field goal percentage defense and 17th in scoring defense. The Scarlet Knights have been exceptional defensively all season long and have held 26 of their 28 opponents under their scoring average. However, the Hawkeyes are going to put up a challenge the Scarlet Knights have not faced all season. It will be nearly impossible for Rutgers to shutdown Iowa’s offense. But if the Scarlet Knights hope to have a chance against the Hawkeyes, they are going to have to limit them wherever they can. The Scarlet Knights’ defense has performed well all season long and they’ll need their best performance yet in order to take down Iowa.

Take Advantage of Hawkeye Weaknesses:

While the Hawkeyes hold on of the most dominant offenses in the game, the opposite holds true on the defensive end. Iowa ranks 237th in scoring defense. Additionally, the Hawkeyes rank 20th in rebounds per game, 195th in steals per game, and 84th in blocks per game. They rely on their offense to win games. However, this gives Rutgers the opportunity it needs. While the Scarlet Knights are not a particularly dominant offense, they have the potential to put up big points. Rutgers is going to have to take advantage of the struggling Iowa defense and dominate on the glass if it hopes to stand up to the 18th ranked team in the nation.

Keep Rolling at Home:

It is no secret that the Scarlet Knights love to play at their home stadium. Rutgers is 13-2 at the RAC so far this season and will look to improve on that on Sunday. While the Hawkeyes have been unbeatable at home themselves (15-0), they have shown some weakness on the road. Iowa is 6-4 on the road, including losing two of their last three away from home. The Hawkeyes are beatable away from home and the Scarlet Knights are going to have to take advantage of the home-court advantage in order to win on Sunday.

Implications:

The season finale could hold some major implications for the Scarlet Knights in terms of seeding. While Rutgers has already clinched a first-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament, a victory on Sunday can still help the Scarlet Knights finish as high as fifth place. The fifth and sixth seeds begin the second-round against a team that played the day before.

Looking Ahead:

The second round of the Big Ten Tournament takes place on Thursday, March 5th. The Scarlet Knights will have to wait and see who they’ll match up against.

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