Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Northwestern Wildcats Pick & Prediction FEBRUARY 15th 2024

Northwestern owes part of its fourth-place standing in the Big Ten to the depth and resolve of its roster.

“It doesn’t take rocket science to understand that teams are going to try to take Boo [Buie] out of the game,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. “They’re going to trap him. They’re going to try to get the ball out of his hands. And the way you beat that is by the other guys stepping up.”

The Wildcats (17-7, 8-5 Big Ten) will aim to maintain their perch when they visit Rutgers on Wednesday at Piscataway, N.J.. A top-four finish in the regular season standings guarantees a bye into the quarterfinals of the conference tournament at Minneapolis next month.

Buie is the team’s top scorer at 18.8 points per game, and has led Northwestern offensively in six straight contests, while balanced production continues to fall in behind him.

All five Wildcats starters finished in double figures during Sunday’s 68-63 home win against Penn State, with Buie scoring 15 points, while Brooks Barnhizer and Ryan Langborg both chipping in 14 points.

Northwestern senior guard Ty Berry will miss the remainder of the season due to a torn meniscus, Collins said Wednesday.

Rutgers (13-10, 5-7) enters on a three-game winning streak and is coming off its biggest victory of the season.

The Scarlet Knights are eager to build on the home debut of Jeremiah Williams, who contributed 18 points, seven assists and five rebounds to Saturday’s 78-56 home romp against No. 11 Wisconsin.

A transfer guard and the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week, Williams has sought to make up for lost time. He navigated NCAA eligibility issues tied to gambling violations after recovering from a left Achilles injury that cost him the 2022-23 season at Iowa State.

“I just kept working and staying positive,” Williams said. “It’s everything to play on this stage.”

Scarlet Knights coach Steve Pikiell has lauded the energy Williams adds to the mix as Rutgers aims to keep climbing the conference standings down the stretch.

“He’s always smiling, he loves practice and he’s given us a voice on the court,” Pikiell said. “I’m thankful he’s out there.”

–Field Level Media

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