Cardiac Hill Big East Basketball Preview: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

Returnees: Rutgers returns nearly every significant contributor from its 2011-12 team. The lone exception is the loss of Gilvydas Biruta, a 6'8" forward who started last year - he's transferred out of the program to Rhode Island. Biruta averaged nearly ten points and just over five rebounds per contest (good for second on the team) and while his interior presence will be missed, to return nearly everyone else is a good thing for the Scarlet Knights. On a lesser level, guard Austin Carroll, who played in ten games averaging 2.8 points a contest, also transferred out to American University.

Other than that, the Scarlet Knights return the bulk of their talent, as seven of their top scorers are back. Leading the way is talented sophomore guard Eli Carter, who led the team in scoring as a freshman last season (13.8 ppg). Carter was a real offensive threat last year, but can be an even bigger one by making more of his shots a bit more consistently. The first-year player connected on only 41% of his attempts in 2011-12.

Newcomers: Wally Judge, a 6'9" forward is one of the new guys to watch. He averaged 5.5 points and nearly four rebounds a game two years ago as a sophomore at Kansas State before transferring to Rutgers and sitting out last season. Judge will help fill the void left by the transfer of Biruta. Then there's JUCO transfer Vincent Garrett, who was his team's leading scorer and rebounder. His coach says he has a chance to earn a starting spot at Rutgers. Logan Kelley will also walk-on to the program as a freshman.

Final Outlook: Rutgers returns most of its pieces, so an improvement on their 14-18 season wouldn't be all that unexpected. But I've still got my doubts on if this team can compete in the Big East this year with eight underclassmen. My guess is that the Scarlet Knights are still at least another year away from challenging for a spot in the NCAAs.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics.

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