Rutgers Basketball 2011-2012 Schedule: a Fan’s Thoughts

2011-2012 Rutgers Basketball Schedule Announced

With just about two months to go before the college basketball season tips off, Rutgers has released its 2011-2012 men’s basketball schedule. After last year’s heartbreaking and controversial loss to St. John’s in the second round of the Big East tournament, Rutgers takes to the court this fall with a revamped roster thanks to a host of talented freshman recruits. Fiery head coach Mike Rice returns for his second year with the Scarlet Knights.

Initial Thoughts

It’s one heck of a schedule, but I could have told you that six months ago. This is, after all, the Big East, a division that’s chock full of basketball powerhouses and perennial championship contenders. Physically, Rutgers may finally shed its “little brother” image after recruiting three legitimate big men (Kadeem Jack, Derrick Randall, and Greg Lewis) to help Biruta and Johnson carry the load in the frontcourt.

Guards Miles Mack, Jerome Seagers, and Eli Carter, along with small forward Malick Kone, round out the heralded recruiting class, which was ranked nationally in the top 15. Just how well these freshmen handle Big East play won’t be unveiled until early January, but for the first time in a long time, Rutgers has some real diverse talent on its hands. Perhaps someone took notice of this, because they will play more nationally televised ESPN games this season than in recent years. Assuming the young Rutgers team finds its groove during the early non-conference games, I would not be surprised to see a few Big East upsets at the RAC this year.

Five Key Games

Every game this season will be crucial if the Knights hope to contend for a postseason bid, but here are five that stick out in my mind above the rest.

1. Rutgers vs. Miami @ Miami, Nov. 15th.
After opening up the season at home against Dartmouth, the Scarlet Knights face their first legitimate threat of the season against the ACC’s Miami Hurricanes. Rutgers beat them at home early last season, but this game will showcase Mike Rice’s freshmen talent, and could set the stage one way or another for the rest of the season.

2. Rutgers vs. West Virginia @ home, Jan. 4th
Rutgers traditionally struggles against the Mountaineers, but playing them at the RAC for their Big East home opener might just be their chance to catch them off-guard and gain momentum with an early Big East upset.

3. Rutgers vs. Seton Hall @ home, Feb. 8th
After taking two of three last season against bitter rival Seton Hall, including one in the Big East tournament, Rutgers faces the Pirates at home for the first time in nearly a year. Something tells me the RAC will be rocking for this one, especially if we already have a handful of Big East wins under our belt by this point.

4. Rutgers vs. Syracus @ home, Feb. 19th
Last season, Rutgers couldn’t quite break the spell that Syracuse seems to have on them, losing a hard-fought overtime game on the road. With fresh talent and a nationally televised Sunday afternoon home game, the stage is set for a long-awaited Rutgers upset. ‘Cuse fans travel well though, so the Rutgers faithful will have their work cut out for them at the RAC.

5. Rutgers vs. St. John’s @ home, March 3rd.
Besides possible postseason significance and it being their final regular season Big East game, Rutgers has a score to settle after losing a second round tournament game to St. John’s last season, thanks in part to painfully bad officiating. Let’s just hope, at least for the refs’ sake, that the league considers its officials carefully for this one.

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