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Tale of the Tape: Rutgers

Ah yes, it is Rutgers week. Breathe it in, soak it in, inject it into your veins.

The No. 2 Hoosiers will be traveling to Piscataway, New Jersey on Friday to take on the Scarlet Knights as they jump back in to conference play. Only three games remain in the regular season, and all three have Big Ten implications.

IU is coming off a 3-0 win in the Indiana Derby against Butler and is currently riding a three-game win streak. Rutgers are in the midst of its own win-streak — the Scarlet Knights took down Northwestern and Lafayette in their last two games by a combined 6-2.

Without further ado, let’s dive into this week’s edition of tale of the tape.

The Wrong Kind of Streaky

Rutgers has been a bit of a streaky team this season — the wrong kind of streaky.

The Scarlet Knights have two streaks of three-straight losses this season separated by wins or draws. They have been an inconsistent team in 2018, and giving up goals has been a big part of that. Earlier this year, Rutgers fell to Elon 8-1 — its worst loss of the season.

Prior evidence suggests Rutgers could be in for a loss after winning two in a row if the Knights stay on brand to their season. IU has made teams who aren’t potent in front of goal pay for their mistakes, and the Hoosiers don’t give many opportunities for other teams to score.

Struggles at the back have also plagued the Scarlet Knights, and it doesn’t help to host a team that’s coming off of a three-goal performance against a team of Rutgers’ caliber.

Big Ten Woes

Rutgers is 2-4 so far in Big Ten play this season, and its struggles have stemmed from playing top-tier teams in the conference. The Scarlet Knights' only conference wins have come against the bottom two teams — Northwestern and Ohio State.

Even the wins against Northwestern and Ohio State were tight contests. The Buckeyes blew a 2-0 lead at halftime, only to give up three unanswered to the Scarlet Knights.

Matches against the top half of the Big Ten have been a different story.

Rutgers has been outscored 10-3 against the rest of Big Ten competition up to this point. This further suggests the notion that the Knights have struggled to defend against quality opponents and has also failed to score on a consistent basis.

One to Watch

Jordan Hall — Despite the team’s struggles to score goal consistently, Rutgers does have a go-to man in front of net. The problem is everyone else behind Hall — who has 12 goals on the season. The next-best scorer is Miles Hackett, who has just two goals on the season.

Rutgers will rely heavily — as it has for the majority of the season — on Hall to be the main supplier of goals Friday night. Hall has three goals in his last two games, including a brace against Lafayette.

He will be on Jack Maher and Timmy Mehl’s radar this Friday, and will be the main focus from a defensive standpoint for Yeagley and co.

Overall Assessment

The vibe around the team following the Butler win is to just focus on Big Ten play from here on out. IU knows it controls its own destiny for the remainder of the season. If they win out, the Hoosiers will win the Big Ten regular season title, and everyone on the team knows this.

That being said, the Hoosiers aren’t taking any conference games lightly, and it will be the same case Friday night. Rutgers’ struggles at the back will give sophomore forward Justin Rennicks a chance to run wild once again. He’s looked at his best the past few games.

Maher and Mehl will have a difficult task to contain Hall in the final third, but if they do their job, then the outlook is pretty bright for the Hoosiers.

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