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Rutgers men's basketball faces Maryland, No. 11 Wisconsin: Can Jeremiah Williams be much-needed catalyst?

Redshirt junior guard Jeremiah Williams made his long-awaited debut for the Rutgers men's basketball team on Saturday and flashed his potential to help lead the team the rest of the season. – Photo by Daniel Fritz /

The Rutgers men's basketball team will face Maryland and Wisconsin this week. The Scarlet Knights (11-10, 3-7) will first go on the road to battle the Terrapins (13-9, 5-6) on Tuesday before hosting the Badgers (16-6, 8-3) at Jersey Mike's Arena on Livingston campus Saturday.

Rutgers is coming into this week following a rollercoaster of ups and downs. The Knights began last week with a brutal 61-46 home loss to Penn State. After that, Rutgers traveled to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and earned its first-ever road win against Michigan in convincing fashion by a score of 69-59.

What changed between those two games for the Knights? There was improved play throughout the roster, but the additions of sophomore center Emmanuel Ogbole and redshirt junior guard Jeremiah Williams were key. Ogbole made his season debut, returning from injury and playing limited minutes, as he appeared to still be adjusting to game action.

But it was Williams who really impressed in his Rutgers debut. Williams joined the Knights this summer after transferring from Iowa State. Williams had been sidelined the entire season while awaiting clearance from the NCAA over a violation of its gambling policy. Once finally ruled eligible ahead of the matchup with the Wolverines (7-15, 2-9), Williams showed Rutgers what it had been missing.

The Chicago, Illinois, native played 30 minutes and finished with 10 points and six rebounds. While these numbers are not particularly eye-popping, it was clear that Williams could be a catalyst for the team.

Williams' ability to drive and create offense is something that the Knights have lacked this season, and he will be huge for them moving forward. They will especially need it when they take on Maryland and No. 11 Wisconsin this week.

Tuesday's game against the Terrapins is set to be a rock fight, as Maryland currently ranks No. 6 in adjusted defensive efficiency (AdjD) according to KenPom, while Rutgers sits at No. 3.

In adjusted offensive efficiency (AdjO), though, the two rank much worse, with the Terrapins ranking 167th and the Knights at 300th. Points will be hard to come by, as both teams play incredibly tough defense but also struggle offensively.

There will be some intriguing head-to-head matchups in this one. Williams will likely be matched up against the Big Ten's second-leading scorer Jahmir Young. Williams' electrifying, scrappy defensive play will clash with Young's next-level scoring abilities.

Senior center Clifford Omoruyi will battle down low against Julian Reese. Both players have nearly averaged a double-double this season, with Omoruyi sitting at 11 points per game (PPG) and 9.1 rebounds per game (RPG), while Reese averages 13.1 PPG and 9.7 RPG. The duel on the low block between these two will be one to watch.

Saturday's bout with the Badgers will be a test. They come in as a top team in the Big Ten and the entire country. Ranking top-10 in AdjO and 33rd in AdjD, Wisconsin has few weaknesses.

Led by four players averaging double-digit points, the Badgers can beat teams in many ways.

Rutgers will need near-perfect play to compete with Wisconsin. If the Knights can work a win over Maryland earlier in the week, the home crowd at Jersey Mike's Arena on Saturday could be enough to invigorate Rutgers to pull off an upset victory.

Williams will have all eyes on him, as the Knights are desperate for an energizer and leader heading into the season's final stretch. He showed he could do it against Michigan, and now, he must prove it was not a fluke.

Tuesday's matchup will tip off from the XFINITY Center in College Park, Maryland, at 6:30 p.m., while Saturday's home contest will begin at noon. Both games will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network and 88.7 WRSU-FM.

For more updates on the Rutgers men's basketball team, follow @TargumSports on X.

To view more of Camden Markel's work, follow @CamdenMarkel on X.

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