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Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament: Scarlet Knights vs. Wisconsin Badgers Preview

Rutgers enters the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 5 seed.

The fifth-seeded Rutgers Scarlet Knights will kick-off their Big Ten Tournament with a matchup against the 12-seeded Wisconsin Badgers on Thursday afternoon at 2:30 (or 25 minutes after the conclusion of Thursday’s first game).

The Scarlet Knights will enter the tournament with plenty of momentum after taking down No.18 Iowa to close out their regular season on Sunday. Rutgers finished the season on a three-game winning streak and will look to continue to roll on Thursday.

Head-to-Head:

This will be the third meeting of the season between the two teams, with Rutgers sweeping Wisconsin in the regular season. The Scarlet Knights lead the all-time series, 9-2, including a 7-1 record as Big Ten opponents. Rutgers has won the last four games between the two, dating back to 2018.

In terms of statistics, the Scarlet Knights hold an advantage over the Badgers in nearly every major category. Rutgers holds a stronger scoring offense and defense, while maintaining a higher team shooting percentage and three-point shooting percentage. Additionally, the Scarlet Knights average more rebounds, steals, and blocks per game than the Badgers. Wisconsin averages more assists per game than Rutgers and the two are tied in turnovers per game (14.5).

Keys to Victory:

Arella Guirantes:

Guirantes solidified herself as a bona fide star for the Scarlet Knights this year. Leading the Big Ten in scoring, Guirantes became the first Scarlet Knight in Rutgers’ history to average 20 points, six rebounds, and three assists per game in a season. Add in the clutch gene that Guirantes showed time after time this season and you have a player with the capability to lead Rutgers deep into the Big Ten Tournament.

The Scarlet Knights will look to Guirantes once again to lead them past the Badgers in the second round. The Scarlet Knights don’t need Guirantes to dominate in order to win, they just need solid effort and leadership out of the star. If Guirantes is able to provide this, Rutgers should be in good shape.

Defense:

The Wisconsin Badgers are not a dominating force offensively by any means, but they have the capability to put up solid numbers. The Badgers put up 71 points in a 16-point victory over Illinois in their first-round matchup on Wednesday. Four players scored in double-digits for the Badgers in the victory, led by Abby Laszewski’s 24 points.

On the other end of the floor, Rutgers has been a dynamic force defensively all season long. The Scarlet Knights hold the 15th best scoring defense and the 21st best field goal percentage defense in the nation. They lead the Big Ten in both of those categories. Additionally, the Scarlet Knights held 27 of 29 teams under their scoring average this season. The Scarlet Knights are a defense-first team and they are going to need more of the same on Thursday if they hope to advance to the next round.

Rebounding:

Rutgers and Wisconsin are both solid rebounding teams, separated by approximately .34 rebounds per game statistically. Both teams have relied on their rebounding in recent games to gain a slight edge over the opponent. In their last matchup, the Scarlet Knights outrebounded Iowa by 13. This ended up being crucial in a four-point overtime win. The Badgers found similar success on Wednesday when they outrebounded Illinois by nine in a first-round victory. Both teams will have to battle on the glass to try and gain the edge in this second-round matchup.

Looking Ahead:

If the Scarlet Knights are able to take down the Badgers, they’ll have a meeting with the fourth-seeded Indiana Hoosiers lined up for Friday. The game on Friday is also scheduled for 2:30 pm (or 25 minutes following the conclusion of Friday’s first game).

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