It’s was another roller coaster ride in the final week of the season for the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team leading up the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on Sunday night at 9 p.m. After losing to Ohio State in the regular season finale, followed by a second defeat at the hands of Maryland in the Big Ten Tournament, hope was bleak that Rutgers would be able to end the 14 year drought since last making the NCAA’s.
Unfortunately, the writing was on the wall after all, despite some optimism on Saturday morning before Georgetown and Cornell upset Denver and Yale respectively. That eliminated two at-large berth possibilities, as both teams were on near or equal footing and earned automatic bids after winning their conference tournaments. That led to Yale and Denver earning those at-large berths after both being ranked in the top three of the national rankings entering this weekend. This is the third consecutive season that Rutgers falls on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble. Villanova (10-5) was the last team selected over Rutgers, Bucknell, and Ohio State, per NCAA Tournament committee chair John Hardt on ESPN’s selection show. Both ESPN analysts criticized the decision.
Despite an RPI of 15 and strength of schedule of 12, it wasn’t enough to earn a bid. The Scarlet Knights went 9-6 including a signature win over Syracuse, but upset losses to Army and Princeton were major setbacks. I would argue the biggest loss of the season can be traced to the loss at Ohio State, handing Rutgers a losing record in Big Ten play and knocking them out of the top ten in the national rankings.
With two of the top players in all of college lacrosse in Big Ten points leader Jules Heningburg and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Michael Rexrode, as well as a strong senior class overall, it’s disappointing the way this season turned out. Head coach Brian Brecht has done a very good job rebuilding this program from the bottom, which is where it was when he took over. However, it’s unfortunate Rutgers missed an opportunity to break through with an NCAA bid yet again. The wait now continues....