Thursday’s stunning loss at the buzzer to Minnesota was as painful as possible. The consensus thought was that a win would have made Rutgers a lock for a program record third straight NCAA Tournament appearance. The Scarlet Knights were 1:15 away from doing just that before a 10 point lead turned into a 1 point loss.
Despite the costly defeat, hope is still alive for Rutgers to go dancing once again. RU was projected as a 8 or 9 seed by most Bracketologists heading into the Minnesota game. After the Quad 3 loss, the Scarlet Knights are still projected to make the NCAA Tournament in every projection updated on Friday.
According to the Bracket Matrix, Rutgers is projected to make March Madness in 52 of 53 brackets updated as of Friday afternoon (5 pm ET). Only Haslametrics has RU projected out of the Field of 68 and list them as the second team out behind North Carolina.
Rutgers is projected as a No. 9 seed in 13 bracket projections. They are projected the No. 10 seed in 22 brackets and the No. 11 seed in 17 brackets. That’s an average seeding of 9.89. While that puts them near the bubble, RU still is a consensus pick to go dancing.
Brad Wachtel of Facts and Bracks has Rutgers projected as the second 10 seed matched up against No. 7 Kentucky. Watch or listen to Brad explain the Selection Committee process for selecting the Field of 68 and run through multiple scenarios for Rutgers on his appearance on The Scarlet Faithful podcast this week.
With an updated NET ranking of No. 38 and KenPom ranking of No. 37, Rutgers has much better metrics compared to last season’s team that played in the First Four round of the NCAA Tournament. That team made history with the worst NET ranking to ever get a bid at No. 77.
While the field and bubble varies year to year, the most important message is that Rutgers still controls its own destiny. If the can defeat Northwestern at home on Sunday for Senior night, they should be at worst in contention for another First Four seeding. However, everything is subject to change based on results around the country. If the low and mid major conferences have surprise teams earn automatic bids, it will make Selection Sunday (March 12) all the more tense. Still, if Rutgers can beat Northwestern they will be considered in very good shape by most Bracketologists.
“At the end of the year they decide who goes to the tournament,” said Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell following the loss to Minnesota. “I always tell you that. They don’t do it after every game. I know everyone likes to talk about it after every game. But we’ve done a lot of good things. We lost this game by one point with a few seconds left. We lost the Ohio State game the same way. We have ten wins in this league (and) we have 18 wins overall. I’m not worried about those things. It’s great, everyone else can talk about it. We’ve got to get ready for Northwestern.”
It’s fair to be frustrated that Rutgers has made the quest for another NCAA Tournament appearance so difficult after being projected as firmly in since January. However, it’s a long season and if this group can come through once again with their backs against the wall on Sunday, the outlook to hear their name called to go dancing will be positive. Of course, a loss and RU would likely need to make a deep run in next week’s Big Ten Tournament.
Even so, the season and the team’s fate is still to be decided. The last two games have been a roller coaster. It’s March and Rutgers fans shouldn’t expect anything different the rest of the way.
Thanks for reading the The Scarlet Faithful. For more Rutgers Athletics content from The Scarlet Faithful, follow us on Twitter and Instagram. You can also subscribe to our YouTube Channel. You can subscribe to The Scarlet Faithful podcast on Apple, Spotify, Pocket Casts and anywhere else you listen to podcasts. For advertising inquiries or to reach out directly, email at email@example.com