Five Takeaways on Big Ten basketball opponents for Rutgers in 2023-2024
On Tuesday, the Big Ten announced conference opponents for the 2023-2024 men’s basketball season. Each of the 14 league member’s will play three opponents at home only, three on the road only, as well as facing seven opponents both home and away during a 20 game Big Ten regular season. Dates and times for each matchup will be released over the summer as part of the full schedule.
Here is who Rutgers will play next season in Big Ten play.
Home Only: Indiana, Northwestern, Penn State
Away Only: Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota
Two Way: Purdue, Maryland, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Nebraska
Here are five takeaways regarding the matchups for the Scarlet Knights.
Early projections show top heavy schedule
Although it’s completely subjective and very early in the offseason, Andy Katz released his current Big Ten Power rankings last week. While he did have Rutgers at No. 7, five of the seven teams they’ll play twice next season are ranked ahead of them. They are No. 2 Purdue, No. 3 Maryland, No. 4 Ohio State, No. 5 Wisconsin and No. 6 Michigan. Even if you don’t agree with that order, all of those teams with the exception of Michigan are set to return many key contributors. And the two additional teams that Rutgers plays twice not projected in the top half of the league are Illinois and Nebraska. They both beat RU in lone meetings last season. And there is this…the Scarlet Knights will only play Minnesota on the road in the Barn where they’ve lost the last two seasons. The Big Ten schedule is never, ever easy, but on paper it looks like the Scarlet Knights have a particularly hard slate next season.
It never works out the way you think it will
Of course, you never truly know how things will play out. In the 2021-2022 season, on paper Rutgers had major opportunities in January and a rough road in February. RU ended up struggling mightily in January before producing a historic February in beating four ranked opponents in a row. Last season, Rutgers won at No. 1 Purdue the day after New Year’s and was one awful officiating call from starting 3-0 in league play after some thought they’d go winless. A great start with the potential for a better finish resulted in a 2-6 stretch to conclude the regular season. How we view the matchups today versus how they’ll look during the season versus how the results will actually play out could be three very different outlooks.
Teams that struggle at the RAC will be back
The good news is several teams who have lost multiple visits in a row to Piscataway will visit again next season. Indiana and Illinois have lost four in a row at the RAC. Purdue and Purdue have lost three straight. Ohio State has lost two consecutive trips to Piscataway, both of the last minute variety. Wins over these programs in recent years have helped solidify one of the best homecourt advantages in the country. Of course, Rutgers uncharacteristically lost its final three home contests to Nebraska, Michigan and Northwestern last season. Hence, my point on anything being possible. At the end of the day, it comes down to how the home team on the court performs. However, it is comforting knowing that several Big Ten programs will visit the RAC next season with recent losses in their heads.
Iowa on road only is better
Rutgers typically matches up poorly against Iowa. The Hawkeyes have won three of its last four games at the RAC. Last season’s loss to Iowa was the first at home in Big Ten play for RU. While Rutgers has struggled on the road as well against Fran McCaffery’s team, playing them once only on the road is preferred. Save a league home game for a better matchup and let the chips fall where they may in Iowa City.
Michigan State avoids RAC two years in a row
After losing back to back seasons at the RAC by a combined 51 points, MSU will avoid the RAC for a second straight campaign. They are the only Big Ten team to be so fortunate. Last season, the home game was moved to Madison Square Garden. Of course, Rutgers will make the trip to East Lansing for the eighth time in nine years next season, a place they’ve never won. Some fans believe Spartans head coach Tom Izzo has a hand in scheduling. This of course is not true. However, the Big Ten didn’t help temper those thoughts with next season’s slate.
Thanks for reading the The Scarlet Faithful. For more Rutgers Athletics content from The Scarlet Faithful, follow us on Twitter and Instagram. You can also subscribe to our YouTube Channel. You can subscribe to The Scarlet Faithful podcast on Apple, Spotify, Pocket Casts and anywhere else you listen to podcasts. For advertising inquiries or to reach out directly, email at email@example.com
April 25, 2023 at 11:59 am
Really looking forward to seeing what next year’s team can do.
Conversely I’m struggling to get excited about the football team this year.
April 25, 2023 at 3:54 pm
The only thing that matters about scheduling is not who you’re playing but when and you only know the day of the game if the “when” is in your favor or not. Injuries, confidence, desperation and other factors all play such huge roles in determining the outcome of these college basketball games. Rarely do the “on paper” preseason evaluations of matchups ever pan out as they’re supposed to.
Regardless, Aaron, I appreciate the analysis and can’t wait for another season to get going.
April 25, 2023 at 9:15 pm
Thank you and I did say it never works out the way it may look right now. That makes it fun too.
April 25, 2023 at 4:12 pm
B1G conference schedule is always difficult, for everybody.
April 25, 2023 at 8:20 pm
Any idea if we are playing games at Mohegan or MSG again, or similar venues in the rea?
April 25, 2023 at 9:03 pm
A game at the Garden is a possibility. Haven’t heard about any other potential neutral site games. They’re at Wake and Seton Hall so one neutral court game is needed unless another road game comes about. Gavitt Games I believe should be home but that series has an odd rotation as not every team from both leagues play each year. I do think Pikiell knows he needs four high major games overall.
May 5, 2023 at 11:37 pm
MSG back to back years?