Scouting report: Looking at red hot No. 3 seed Rutgers

The Scarlet Knights are on a nine-game winning streak heading into Thursday night.


Kate Heston

The Univeristy of Iowa women’s basketball team warms up before a second round game of the Big 10 women’s basketball tournament. Iowa, ranked #6, took on #11 Purdue in Indianapolis at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse Wednesday night. The Hawkeyes beat the Boilermakers, 83-72, advancing the Hawks to take on Rutgers Thursday night in the Big 10 quarterfinals.

Isaac Goffin, Assistant Sports Editor

INDIANAPOLIS — When Iowa faces Rutgers (14-3 overall, 10-3 in Big Ten Play) Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament, it will be facing a team that is red hot.

After having a COVID-19 outbreak and injuries, the Scarlet Knights didn’t play a game from Jan. 3 to Feb.7. Since returning to play, Rutgers has won nine consecutive games, the most consecutive Big Ten games the program has won in its history. Rutgers joined the conference in 2014.

The average margin of victory in those games was 16.3 points, and two of those wins came against No. 21 Northwestern and No. 20 Ohio State.

That performance helped gave the Scarlet Knights a No. 3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. The Scarlet Knights are ranked No. 19 in the AP Poll.

The NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET), which is what the NCAA Tournament selection committee uses for determining at-large bids, ranks Rutgers at No. 11 in the nation. The 111.8 points Rutgers is getting per 100 possessions is fourth in the nation.

With those points per possession, it is unsurprising the Scarlet Knights have put up three games of 80 or more points in Big Ten play this season. Before this season, Rutgers had that total number of points in a Big Ten game three times.

With that success comes good players such as Arella Guirantes, who is averaging 20.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 2.1 steals per game. She is on six national watchlists, including the Wooden Award for Most Outstanding Player.

In Iowa’s 90-84 win over Rutgers Dec. 31 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Guirantes had 34 points, five assists, four steals, two rebounds, and a block. She shot 50 percent from the field and played the entire game. Caitlin Clark had a similar performance in that game as she also shot 50 percent from the floor with 28 points, six assists, six rebounds, and one steal.

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Guirantes’s steals help the Scarlet Knights obtain their statistic of having 12.7 steals per game, which is fifth in the nation. Tesla Mack is eighth in the nation in steals per game at 3.2. The Scarlet Knights are eighth in the nation in turnover margin at 7.0.

Rutgers has its own star freshman in Diamond Johnson. Her 17.4 points per game is second on the team, and she is shooting 46.4 percent from behind the 3-point line. Her 3-point shooting percentage is 10th in the nation. She had 18 points against Iowa.

In the Dec. 31 game, it was Iowa’s starters that carried the way, just like they did against Purdue Wednesday night. All five starters scored at least 10 points against Rutgers, and McKenna Warnock scored 18 minutes and played just under 39 minutes after missing the last game on Dec. 22 against Western Illinois because of an injury.

The last time these two teams played each other in the Big Ten Tournament was 2019, when Iowa won 72-67 in the semifinals.

Rutgers head coach C. Vivian Stringer was the head coach at Iowa from 1983-95 and led the program reach the Final Four in 1993. This is her 50th season as a head coach in college basketball.

The game will start at approximately 8 p.m. and will be televised on FS2.

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