Before Monday night’s game, Rutgers said it was heading to Mackey Arena with little fear.

And maybe the Scarlet Knights had reason to feel comfortable; after all they had beaten then-No. 1 Purdue in Jersey Mike’s Arena a year ago and had beaten the Boilermakers in Mackey (albeit in a nearly empty stadium) in 2020. Monday, they showed they’re up to the task, getting a Cam Spencer 3-pointer with 14 seconds left, then holding on during Purdue’s final possession to secure a 65-64 victory. It was Rutgers’ 5th win in the past 6 meetings against Purdue.

“We’re tough. I mean, these guys have been through some wars. I’m sure a lot of people didn’t think we could come in here, but I think the group did. They got good confidence. We have a nice blend,” coach Steve Pikiell said after the win. “… We have good grit and they’re connected. We got a lot more tests ahead of us, a long season but get to enjoy this for 5 minutes.”

Pikiell has built a Rutgers’ program very much in a similar mold to Matt Painter’s group in West Lafayette. Both teams — generally — play a tough, physical brand of basketball, and although the Scarlet Knights have had the edge in the series of late, there seems to be a high level of respect going both directions. Monday, Rutgers took a 10-point lead into the half by stifling the Boilermakers to only 24 1st-half points. But Purdue rallied in the 2nd, with Fletcher Loyer hitting a go-ahead 3-pointer in the final minute. But Spencer and Rutgers responded one last time.

“What Rutgers did tonight didn’t shock the coaching staff,” Painter said. “And we sold it and sold it and sold it like, ‘hey, man, these guys are coming. If we were going to war, we’d stopped by New Jersey and pick them up.'”

The win bounced Rutgers to No. 15 in the basketball NET rankings, after it gave the Scarlet Knights their 2nd Quad 1 victory. They do have 2 Quad 3 losses, which might be a drag on their NCAA résumé, but after playing through injuries early in the season — Paul Mulcahy and Caleb McConnell missed games — they’re healthy now.

“We’ll enjoy today, we’ll get ready for a really good Maryland team (on Thursday),” Pikiell said. “We have a bunch of ranked teams coming up. It’s never gets easy in this league.”

Wisconsin ‘Scumbags?’

Hunter Dickinson won’t be getting a Valentine’s Day card from Wisconsin fans when Michigan visits Madison on Feb. 14, after the Wolverine star called the Badgers “scumbags” on a podcast this week.

On Barstool Sports Roundball Podcast, Dickinson took some shots at the Badgers, saying “they are just scumbags. That’s what it is. They are just scumbags. Nothing I can say about Wisconsin is going to fire up the matchup even more. It already is what it is. They are scumbags. The feeling could not be anymore mutual. It’s not like it’s a one-sided beef where I am mad at (former Maryland head coach) Mark Turgeon for not recruiting me. Maryland, the players, they have no reason to be mad at me. This one is very mutual.”

Of course, there’s recent history between the programs. It was a year ago when Michigan coach Juwan Howard struck Wisconsin assistant Joe Krabbenhoft in the head after words had been exchanged during the handshake line after the Badgers’ victory. Howard had been upset over a timeout called by Wisconsin coach Greg Gard in the final minute. Since then, the 2 head coaches have, at least publicly, mended fences, hugging it out during a photo op on Twitter during the Big Ten media days before the season.

But Dickinson hasn’t let it go. The teams will play in Madison on Valentine’s Day, then in Ann Arbor about 2 weeks later.

In, then out

After opting in to playing on Tom Izzo’s basketball team, Michigan State wide receiver Keon Coleman has reversed course.

Coleman, the Spartans’ leading receiver last season, decided he won’t play on the hardwood in 2023, instead focusing on spring football.

“Keon Coleman and I spoke at length this week and we came to the joint decision that it would be best for him to focus on his football career and not join the basketball team at this time,” Izzo said in a statement. “Keon had a great football season and it’s in his best interests to take the next few months to get ready for spring football, while also taking care of his academic obligations.”

Coleman, who had 58 receptions for 798 yards last season, played in 6 games last season for Izzo. Both he and Maliq Carr, a tight end who had also played hoops, will not be on the basketball roster this year.

Switch it up

When Indiana takes the court Thursday night against Iowa, after a nearly 2-week hiatus, the Hoosiers will look a bit different.

On his radio show Monday night, coach Mike Woodson said that Tamar Bates will be in the starting lineup, replacing Trey Galloway, in an effort to give the Hoosiers’ a 2nd ball-handler with Jalen Hood-Schifino. The move is needed because of the injury to Xavier Johnson, who is out indefinitely after foot surgery.

Woodson is also hoping the change will help the Hoosiers start more quickly, after they were slow out of the gate in their loses to Rutgers, Kansas and Arizona.

“Somehow I got to make the adjustments in terms of who starts and who comes off the bench,” Woodson said on his radio show. “It’s important when you’re playing the good teams, the really good teams like the Kansas’s, the Arizona’s, the Rutgers’, you can’t get off to a slow start. And in all three games, we got off to a slow start and we paid for it. And that’s something moving forward that we’ve talked about a little bit.”