Chapel Hill, N.C. - Dean E. Smith Center
7:45 p.m., FSN (Ron Thulin, Dan Bonner)
"We're aware of the week ahead. It's exciting. I look at it as a great opportunity for our guys because we're building a program. These teams are where we want to be. We want to be a No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 team in the country. I want them to experience the challenge of playing top teams. Let's go lay it on the line for 40 minutes and see what happens at the end of the game." – Rutgers head coach Fred Hill on a week that starts with No. 1 North Carolina and continues with No. 3 Pittsburgh on Wednesday and No. 2 Connecticut on Sunday
Season to Date: Rutgers enters Sunday's contest with a 9-3 record. The Scarlet Knights have won four straight games, and six of their last seven. Head coach Fred Hill's squad has faired better on the road than at home, losing games to Lehigh (76-71) and Binghamton (66-56) in Piscataway. The other loss came against St. Bonaventure (64-63, OT) at the Garden State Challenge. Rutgers was picked to finish 12th in the BIG EAST in the preseason coaches' poll.
Fantastic Freshmen: Freshmen Mike Rosario and Gregory Echenique have lived up to their billing through twelve games this season. Rosario, a McDonald's All-American, ranks in the top-15 in the BIG EAST in three different categories – scoring (12th - 16.8), free throw percentage (1st - .868) and three point field goals (8th - 2.7). Echenique has proven to be a force in the paint, ranking fifth in rebounding (9.5) and field goal percentage (.631), third in blocks (2.7), ninth in offensive rebounds (3.1) and seventh in defensive rebounds (6.4) in the BIG EAST.
Defensive Presence: Hamady Ndiaye, a 6-foot-11, 235-pound center, leads the BIG EAST and is third nationally in rejections with 4.25 per contest. The junior is also averaging 7.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per outing, but his post defense has catapulted the Scarlet Knights up the food chain in defensive recognition. Rutgers currently ranks second nationally in blocks (8.7), sixth in 3-point field goal percentage defense (25.6) and seventh in field goal percentage defense (35.6).
Interesting Fact: Rutgers' highest-ranked road win all-time occurred less than a year ago when the Scarlet Knights defeated No. 13 Pittsburgh, 77-64, on Jan. 26.
Déjà vu? On this date two years ago, Rutgers lost at UNC, 87-48. The Tar Heels were ranked second nationally at that time.
Last Meeting: North Carolina defeated Rutgers, 93-71, on Dec. 17, 2007, in Piscataway. Ty Lawson scored a career-high 26 points and Tyler Hansbrough posted his fourth consecutive double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
Series History: North Carolina leads the all-time series with Rutgers, 9-1, and has won nine in a row over the Scarlet Knights.
Projected Starters: 31 Mike Coburn (6-0, 195, So.) – 4.3 ppg, 2.6 apg 3 Mike Rosario (6-3, 180, Fr.) - 16.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg 11 Earl Pettis (6-5, 225, So.) – 4.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg 00 Gregory Echenique (6-9, 260, Fr.) - 9.8 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 2.7 bpg 5 Hamady Ndiaye (6-11, 235, Jr.) – 7.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 4.3 bpg Key Reserves: 2 Anthony Farmer (6-1, 190, Sr.) – 9.3 ppg, 2.3 apg 1 Corey Chandler (6-2, 190, So.) – 6.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg 15 JR Inman (6-9, 230, Sr.) – 5.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg
Background Location: New Brunswick, N.J. Enrollment: 37,204 Conference: BIG EAST Nickname: Scarlet Knights Colors: Scarlet Head Coach: Fred Hill Record at RU: 30-42 Last Year: 11-20 (3-13)