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Rutgers Basketball Bracketology: Projections heading into conference tournaments

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We review how the most accurate sites over the years project the Scarlet Knights, who as of Tuesday are in very good shape.

Maryland v Rutgers Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

We are five days and counting from Selection Sunday for the NCAA Tournament. For the first time in 29 years, Rutgers will turn on the telecast with confidence that its name will be called to participate in March Madness. As of Tuesday, the Scarlet Knights have a NET ranking of 32, which is a strong indicator as the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee utilizes it as at least a reference point in making decisions. RU is currently 9-10 in Quad 1 & 2 opportunities, which is solid. They’ll have another Quad 1 opportunity on Thursday at noon in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament against Michigan.

In regard to how Rutgers is being projected heading into high major conference tournaments tipping off later this week, a tremendous site to visit through Sunday is Bracket Matrix. They sort every NCAA Tournament projection out there. As of Tuesday for this posting, all 122 sites listed project Rutgers as in, with an average seed of 9.26. Nick Devlin of NJ Advance Media did a nice summary on this here.

While certain sites or bigger names get a lot of attention during this week, I wanted to focus on more on who is usually correct in their projections. You can find Bracket Matrix’s rankings of all 133 sites that have made bracket predictions the past 3-5 years here. Below s a summary of the top ten sites in regard to accuracy in order to get a good feel for how Rutgers is looking as of now. Some are bracket specific with matchups and locations, others are just seeding placement.

Dave Ommen of Bracketville has been the most accurate bracketologist the past five years. NBC Sports now utilizes his services but he continues to update his own site as well. His updated bracket from Tuesday projects Rutgers as a 10 seed in the South Regional in Tampa, Florida playing against 7 seed Providence, who have won six straight games.

Kevin Pulsifer has been the second most accurate but only Tweets his projections. As of March 9th, he also projects Rutgers as a 10 seed.

Jacob Stallard of SB Nation’s Purdue site, Hammer & Rails, has been third most accurate but I didn’t see anything from him yet.

Brad Wachtel is a former Rutgers student manager and director of basketball administration under Eddie Jordan. He has been the fourth most accurate bracketologist and projects Rutgers as the last 10 seed as of now on his site Facts & Bracks. You can hear more of Brad’s thoughts on Rutgers and the rest of the potential NCAA Tournament field on our podcast on Wednesday.

Switching the Coverage has been the fifth most accurate during the past five years and projects Rutgers as a 9 seed facing Houston in Cleveland in the East Region.

Warren Nolan has been sixth most accurate but I didn’t find any projections from him yet.

Hoops HD has been the seventh most accurate and as of Monday night, projects Rutgers as a 10 seed facing 7 seed Virginia in St. Louis for the Midwest Region.

Eighth most accurate of the last five years, Lukas Harkins of Busting Brackets last updated over the weekend and projects Rutgers as a 9 seed facing 8 seed Saint Mary’s in Houston for the South Region. He added this quote, “Rutgers knocked off Purdue on the road. This result essentially locks the Scarlet Knights into the field (woohoo) and makes the Boilermakers a big-time long-shot.”

The ninth most reliable site, Catch and Shoot authored by Jesse Kramer updated on Tuesday and Rutgers projects as a 9 seed in Omaha of the South Region, but instead playing Marquette.

The tenth most accurate site has been One Man Selection Committee, who projects Rutgers also in the South Region, but as a 10 seed facing 7 seed Colorado in St. Louis.

Regarding notable or more prominently known bracketology writers out there, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi is the most well known. He projects Rutgers as a 9 seed in Omaha in the South Region facing 8 seed LSU. Lunardi ranks 55th most accurate over the past 5 years.

Jonathan Warriner of Making the Madness, 58th most accurate, projects Rutgers as 9 seed facing 8 seed Providence in Omaha of the Midwest Region. He also went to bat for Steve Pikiell as well:

Chris Dobbertean of SB Nation’s Blogging the Bracket, 61st most accurate, projects Rutgers as a 10 seed versus 7 seed West Virginia in Cleveland of the Midwest Region.

In regard to high and low water mark projections, Seed Madness projects Rutgers as a 7 seed, but don’t get too excited as they rank 122nd out of 133 sites the past 5 years in regard to accuracy. On the flip side, Bracksketblogs projects Rutgers as a 12 seed as part of the First Four in against Cincinnati. They have been pretty accurate the past five years, ranking 36th, including the most accurate last season.

The point is even the worst projection has Rutgers in the NCAA Tournament as of Tuesday, with a 9 or 10 seed the overwhelming projection. IF Rutgers can finally beat Michigan on Thursday, it would not only make them a lock, but would improve seeding as well. Every Big Ten Tournament win would do that. A loss and they are VERY LIKELY still in. IF low to mid major conference tournaments get particularly crazy with teams not in consideration for an at-large bid winning the automatic bid, then things could get a bit unnerving. Of course, the same would be the case if high major tournaments produce winners that aren’t currently projected to make the NCAA Tournament. Even so, A LOT would need to happen to push Rutgers outside of the bubble at this stage.

As of today, Rutgers is in very good shape, which will make many fans happy and a decent portion taking a regular dose of Tums through Sunday based on historical nausea from rooting for this program. I’ll provide another bracketology post or two leading up to Sunday.