Piscataway, N.J. - Louis Brown Athletic Center
8 p.m., ESPN
Season to Date: Rutgers enters Sunday night's contest against North Carolina with a 7-3 mark on the season. Their victories have come against a soft schedule, however, with wins over N.C. Central, Dartmouth, NJIT, North Dakota State, Lafayette, Princeton and Tennessee Tech. Losses include Florida (88-63), Nebraska (63-51) and St. Peters (65-58). Junior forward J.R. Inman has led the charge for the Scarlet Knights, averaging 16.8 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Freshman guard Corey Chandler is contributing 13.2 points per contest, and junior guard Anthony Farmers is adding 9.5 points of his own.
Offensive struggles: Rutgers ranks second-to-last (15th) in the Big East with 65.8 points per game. That number is the result of a poor shooting percentage (40.3 percent) that currently holds the cellar spot in the conference, which is also accompanied by a paltry 8.6 assists per game mark. The Scarlet Knights are attempting 17 three-pointers a contest, but not many of those are falling as evidenced by a 28.5 shooting percentage from beyond the arc.
Man in the Middle: Rarely does Rutgers land elite-level talent, but second-year head coach Fred Hill got his first big recruiting victory by signing 6-foot-11 center Hamady Ndiaye over Gonzaga, Pittsburgh, Miami and more than two dozen other programs. The sophomore leads the BIG EAST and ranks seventh nationally in blocks with 3.8 rejections per game. The Dakar, Senegal native's statistics help Rutgers to hold down the No. 3 spot in the Big East with 6.1 blocked shots per game. And in case you were wondering, there's no known relation to former Tar Heel Makhtar Ndiaye.
The Inexperience Factor:With six returning lettermen on the squad, the Scarlet Knights are tied for the fewest number of veterans in the BIG EAST. Four of the six returning players have at least one full season of starting experience, with three competing as starters for at least two years.
Something's Got to Give: Rutgers is 6-0 at home this season, while North Carolina is 6-0 in away games.
Last Meeting: The Tar Heels outran the Scarlet Knights, 87-48, on Dec. 28, 2006, in Chapel Hill. Rutgers shot 36.2 percent from the floor in the game. Freshman Brandan Wright led all scorers with 19 points, hitting 8-of-10 field goal attempts, and tied for team rebounding honors with seven boards. Classmate Wayne Ellington hit a career-high five three-pointers, going 5-of-6 behind the arc and finishing with 17 points. Fellow freshman Ty Lawson dished out a career-high nine assists and had zero turnovers. Sophomore Tyler Hansbrough scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds but hit just 5-of-13 field goal tries.
Series History: North Carolina leads the all-time series with Rutgers, 8-1, and has won eight in a row over the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers won the first game in the series during the 1920-21 season. The teams did not face each other again until Feb. 11, 1978, and the teams then played six times in a nine-year span. This is the second game in the series to be played in New Jersey. The 1921 game was played in Piscataway. The programs met at Madison Square Garden in New York three times, in Greensboro twice and in Charlotte and Chapel Hill once.
Background Location: New Brunswick, N.J. Enrollment: 33,500 Conference: Big East Nickname: Scarlet Knights Color: Scarlet Head Coach: Fred Hill Record at RU: 17-22 Last Year: 10-19
Projected Starters: 2 Anthony Farmer (6-1, 190, Jr.) – 9.5 ppg, 2.1 apg 1 Corey Chandler (6-2, 190, Fr.) – 13.2 ppg, 2.1 spg 32 Jaron Griffin (6-7, 210, Jr.) - 8.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg 15 JR Inman (6-9, 220, Jr.) - 16.8 ppg, 9.1 rpg 5 Hamady Ndiaye (6-11, 235, So.) – 5.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.8 bpg Key Reserves: 31 Mike Coburn (6-0, 195, Fr.) – 6.7 ppg 21 Byron Joynes (6-9, 265, Sr.) – 2.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg
Inman ... Chandler
Griffin ... Ndiaye
Griffin ... Coburn
(Photos courtesy AP)