Cleveland State vs Rutgers Preview and Prediction
Cleveland State vs Rutgers Preview
Cleveland State and Rutgers have only faced off once before and that came almost four decades ago in the 1979-80 season–the Vikings came out victorious 78-69.
Cleveland State was coached by former Rutgers head man Gary Waters, but he retired last season and gave the keys to the Vikings team to Dennis Felton. He inherited a program coming off two consecutive 20-loss seasons and their leading scorer from last year, Rob Edwards, transferred to Arizona State. There have been several other players who left the program since Felton took over, but they do have six seniors still on the roster.
The top scorer from last season that returned is 6’4” senior guard Bobby Word, who averaged 11.1 points, but shot just 35.2% from the field, including only 32% from three-point range. Word struggled in the season opener, a 10-point loss to Akron, scoring just five points on 2-of-7 shooting on a night he was in foul trouble most of the game. He has the ability to catch fire from behind the arc and Rutgers will need to be aware of his presence at all times.
The other member of the Vikings who can score from anywhere on the court is sophomore Kash Thomas, who has started every game in his Cleveland State career.
Rutgers gave a disappointing performance on the defensive end against Central Connecticut State in their last game, allowing the Blue Devils to shoot over 48% from the field. They did escape 71-67 victory in that game, but they should have beaten CCSU by much more than four points. Far too many times against CCSU, Rutgers settled for jump shots instead of attacking the rim. It was a bad habit that reared its ugly head too often last season and it’s disappointing we saw the same thing happen against CCSU, as well as in the opener at CCNY.
Mike Williams had 23 points and four steals and Eugene Omoruyi had a career-high 13 points, seven rebounds and two blocks as much-needed sparks off the bench in their last victory and will need much of the same against Cleveland State tonight. The biggest recipe for a victory by Rutgers tonight is holding onto the ball and not turning it over, something they have done a lot of to start the season—26 to be exact, against competition that is sub par. Rutgers needs to have a clean game and not give Cleveland State any opportunity to get easy baskets off of turnovers.
Rutgers fans have a lot to worry about despite the team starting the season 2-0. Unless we see a different, more patient team I think an upset is in the making tonight.
Cleveland State 71 Rutgers 69
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