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Penn State at Rutgers Preview: Nittany Lions Looking to Avoid Embarrassment in Piscataway

Rutgers is as bad as you think they are.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Who: Rutgers Scarlet Knights (6-20, 0-13)
When: Saturday, 1 p.m. ET
Where: Rutgers Athletic Center
KenPom Rank: 284
KenPom Line: PSU -4
Enemy Blog: On the Banks

Momentum in the Big Ten has been hard to come by for Penn State under Pat Chambers. Only on three occasions have the Nittany Lions won consecutive games in conference play since 2012. They'll have the opportunity of a lifetime to increase that total against a Rutgers team that is historically bad, and that's not an exaggeration.

The Scarlet Knights are, according to KenPom, not statistically good enough to finish in the top three of the MEAC, aka the worst conference in America. They haven't won a game in 2016, and their best win this season came against Fairleigh Dickinson, an NEC team currently ranked 283rd by KenPom.

It's not all bad for third-year head coach Eddie Jordan though. He's got a star freshman in Corey Sanders, who looks like a legitim...oh dear.

Scouting The Opposition

Let's keep this short and sweet. Even on a national scale, there is only one category in which this Rutgers team is above average: defensive free throw rate. The Knights are 69th nationally (nice) in limiting trips to the foul line. They're also a prime example of how not to play when you're clearly outmanned - instead of slowing the game down and limiting possessions, Jordan has decided to run and gun with the best in the conference and surprise! His team in nowhere near talented enough to get in a run and gun game with, well, anybody and come away victorious.

Before his suspension, Sanders was a real bright spot on this dark void of a season in Piscataway. The Florida native had a monster 39-12-8 line in Rutgers' closest Big Ten game to date, a 110-101 triple-overtime thriller against Illinois. Without the dynamic freshman, the Scarlet Knights are down to just seven available scholarship players.

What To Watch For

Penn State is certainly capable of losing this game - they've laid plenty of eggs on the road under Chambers - and they lost in this fixture last season, but even that Rutgers team, which finished 2-16 in conference, would be a major upgrade over this incarnation of the team.

Poor shooting doomed the Lions last season (5-27 from three), and just as they did last season they'll have a major height advantage down low. Donovon Jack is hitting his stride at just the right time to take full advantage of this undermanned and undersized Rutgers team, whose only available big man is 6'9" Greg Lewis. Expect to see plenty of low post touches for Jack and Brandon Taylor.


Rutgers is a laughingstock right now, but they'll be fighting like hell to get that first win. Eddie Jordan could sure use a win over a quote-unquote rival to bolster his CV, as Rutgers' new AD will certainly be evaluating his status at the end of the season. But Penn State is the superior team here, and it would go against everything I know and hold dear to pick Rutgers to win a game this season. Penn State 75, Rutgers 65.