Update: Rutgers earned the no. 7 seed and will play no. 10 seed Indiana on Thursday.
Rutgers took care of business with a 77-70 overtime victory over Minnesota on Saturday, finishing the regular season with an overall record of 14-10 and 10-10 in Big Ten play. With a NET of 37 entering Saturday along with a 9-10 record against Quad 1 and Quad 2 teams without any bad losses (Q3/Q4), all while playing in a Big Ten conference considered the second strongest per analytics over the past two decades, Rutgers is a lock to earn its first NCAA Tournament berth in 30 years.
There is still opportunity to improve on its seeding for the Big Dance and that comes in the form of the Big Ten Tournament, which begins Wednesday in Indianapolis, Indiana at Lucas Oil Stadium. It’s time to take a look at potential seeding, opponents and tip-off times for Rutgers basketball.
With one day remaining in Big Ten regular season play, the Scarlet Knights have a pretty clear picture as to where they will end up. At 10-10, they could finish as high as tied for 6th place in the regular season standings but can only be seeded either no. 7 or no. 8 in the Big Ten Tournament.
If Wisconsin wins at Iowa OR Maryland loses at home to Penn State, Rutgers would earn the no. 7 seed. If the Scarlet Knights tie with the Badgers, who lost to Iowa at home by 15 points on February 18, UW earns the no. 6 seed due to winning the lone meeting 60-54 earlier this season. If they tie with the Terps, RU wins the tiebreak after splitting the season series due to having a better record against Purdue at 1-0 vs. 1-1, who is the highest common opponent they have a difference in results between. Maryland lost at Penn State 55-50 on February 5.
If Wisconsin loses at Iowa AND Maryland wins at home to Penn State, Rutgers would finish in a three-way tie for sixth place but earn the no. 8 seed. The tiebreaker for a multi-team tie begins with record between the three teams. Wisconsin went 2-1 by beating RU and splitting with the Terps. Maryland went 2-2 in splitting with both teams. Rutgers went 1-2 after splitting with the Terps.
If Rutgers earns the no. 7 seed, they would play no. 10 seed Indiana on Thursday, March 11 at 6:30 p.m. ET. The winner would play no. 2 seed Illinois on Friday, March 12 at 6:30 p.m. ET. The Scarlet Knights produced a 3-0 record in the regular season against these two opponents.
If Rutgers earns the no. 8 seed, they would play no. 9 seed Michigan State on Thursday, March 11 at 11:30 a.m. ET. The winner would play top seeded Michigan on Friday, March 12 at 11:30 a.m. ET. The Scarlet Knights went 1-2 against these two teams this season so far.
While Rutgers is firmly in the NCAA Tournament field, winning at least one game at the Big Ten Tournament would help for seeding purposes.
The Scarlet Knights swept Indiana with a 74-70 road victory on January 24 and a 74-63 win at home on February 24. The Hoosiers have lost five games in a row and six of its last seven, falling out on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble with little hope except for a miracle run in the Big Ten Tournament held in its home state.
Rutgers split with Michigan State in two extreme performances, losing 68-45 on the road on January 5 and winning 67-37 at the RAC on January 28. However, the Spartans have won four of its last six games including wins over Illinois and Ohio State. They’ll play conference champion Michigan on Sunday for the second time in four days after losing by 19 points on Thursday.
While it’s extremely difficult to beat a team three times in the same season, Rutgers matches up very well against an Indiana team that is in free fall mode. Michigan State is improved and playing with much more confidence since they last faced Rutgers at the RAC in a game they produced its least amount of points for the program in over a decade.
On Sunday, Wisconsin plays at Iowa at 12:30 p.m. ET on FOX, while Maryland hosts Penn State at 7:00 p.m. ET on the Big Ten Network (BTN). We’ll post the confirmed matchups for Rutgers at next week’s Big Ten Tournament late on Sunday.