Rutgers Men’s Basketball

DAYTON, OHIO - MARCH 16: Rutgers Scarlet Knights mascot against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the First Four game of the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at UD Arena on March 16, 2022 in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The first week of practice for college basketball was last week. Once practice gets started usually we start to see way-too-early rankings and power rankings come out. This season on ncaa.com Andy Katz put out his power 36 rankings with Rutgers coming in at 19. Now, these are not official rankings or even rankings for the NCAA tournament. This is Katz’s version of the AP Top 25.

Every team that is ranked has one to two sentences on the team or the player that will shine the most this season. Here Katz gives attention to Caleb McConnell.

He says, “Caleb McConnell isn’t just the reigning Big Ten defensive player of the year. He’s going to be one of the better offensive guards.”

McConnell is the first Rutgers player to win defensive player of the year since 2009. He led the Big Ten in steals setting a new career high in steals (2.2). He is also on the Watch List for Naismith Defensive Player of the Year. Expect another big year on the defensive end for McConnell and expect him to step up with both Geo baker and Ron Harper Jr. gone.

Another guard that is poised to have a big year is Paul Mulcahy. He is a 6’6 pass first guard that averaged 5.3 assists last season. He wasn’t only a passer he can score as well. Last season he had seven straight games scoring double-digit points. He had the best game of his career against Northwestern scoring 31 points and adding seven assists and seven rebounds. He had his first double-double against No. 13 Michigan State with 15 points and 12 assists. Mulcahy was also Honorable Mention All-Big Ten. Expect more scoring from Mulcahy he will take a big step up this year.

The big man in the middle Cliff Omoruyi has made big strides in his first two years at Rutgers. During freshman year he was averaging 3.8 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. Last season he stepped up averaging 11.9 points and 7.8 rebounds and led the team in blocks with 1.2 per game. He had five games with double-doubles, 21 games in double figures, and had a career-high in rebounds against Iowa 14. He was named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten. This could be a year where Cliff flirts with averaging a double-double. If he develops some post moves and becomes a better rim runner he will be a problem for all opponents this year.

This season Rutgers got transfer Cam Spencer from Loyola University Maryland. Last season Spencer was All-Patriot League First Team and Academic All-Patriot League Team. He averaged 16.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists. He shot 46.8 % from the field and 35.3% from three. Led the conference in points, steals, and minutes per game. He was second in the conference in free throw percentage (85.8), eighth in assists (3.2), and second in the assists-to-turnover ratio (2.4:1). The scoring Spencer brings to the team will help out a lot and take pressure off of the guards.

If the Scarlet Knights can put it together this season they have a legit chance to fight for a Big Ten title and even make a run in the big dance.