Friday morning, the Big Ten announced that the Canes will be facing Rutgers this year in 2018 ACC/Big Ten Challenge, an annual week-long series that puts all 14 Big Ten Teams against 14 ACC Teams. The game is set for November 28th at Miami, with no official tip-off time as of now.
This will be the second time in three years that the Canes will be playing Rutgers, with the last matchup ending with The U able to finesse a win against the Scarlet Knights 73-61 in 2016. However, this was was a time when Miami wasn't the best in the ACC but was pretty solid for what they had. At the time, the Canes were on a two-game losing streak coming the game, while Rutgers was undefeated. However, if it wasn't for then-freshman Dejaun Huell (a familiar name as of lately) who contributed 14 points and 7 rebounds within his 25 minutes of play, no one would have predicted the outcome. This 2016 wasn't much of a thriller but was a needed game to rebuild confidence after the Canes took two L’s from a ranked Iowa State squad and the Florida Gators.
So, what are the chances or Rutgers beating Miami in 2018? Well from statistics last year, possibly. The Scarlet Knights were ranked last in the Big Ten, but they did have four schools in their conference that were an actual force nationally and made it to the big dance in March, so that sort of makes up for the 3-15 record they had last year in the conference. Outside of the Big Ten though, the Knights were 12-4, and let's not mention the upset against Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament this year. They might be trash by the numbers and records, but could still be a threat at times, especially against the Hurricanes if they get the chance.
However, Miami dominated the hell out of the most of their games in the 2017-2018 season right down to their loss against Loyola, who eventually went all the way to the Final Four. They were ranked #22 nationally and earned sixth seed overall at the NCAA Tournament with a 22-10 record, but couldn't get the job done in the first round, unfortunately. That sounds like a good season right? Yes, but the problem is that The U is losing a ton of players during the offseason. For example, 2017 was the premiere season for phenom freshman Lonnie Walker, who has decided to enter the 2018 NBA Draft with fellow starter, sophomore Bruce Brown Junior. Miami is also losing Ja'Quan Newton, Mike Robinson, and Mike Stowell, with little to no incoming commits to reload with. The Canes have to rely on Huell and sophomore point guard Chris Lykes to hold the team down for now.
Look, I'm not saying that there's more than a 50% chance that Rutgers is going to beat The U next year, especially since it's evident that the team is developing. But with low recruiting numbers and a stinger of an ending to their season to Loyola, we don't know how strong this basketball squad is right now. What many of us could say would be an easy game can end up being an embarrassing upset that could fall into place with huge upsets in The U's history as a whole. Come this November though, we will find out whether this game will be a nail-biter of a rematch or just a game to keep on while running errands.