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Rutgers men’s basketball Bracketology 3.0: Selection Sunday

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Will the Scarlet Knights end up going to the big dance? We’ll find out in a few hours.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Rutgers Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Selection Sunday!

Rutgers is the most polarizing team in regard to the NCAA Tournament bubble speculation. I covered projections earlier in the week here and here.

Let’s survey the bracketology landscape as Selection Sunday is just hours away in order to get a handle on where Rutgers is currently projected overall and by specific sites.

In regard to Rutgers’ profile, their 6-6 record vs. Quad 1 opponents has them with the most wins in that category of any bubble team. They are also 8-6 against teams currently projected to make the NCAA Tournament. Their road/neutral game record of 4-9 has the fewest wins of any bubble team. One key difference though is only Rutgers and Xavier have two Quad 1 road wins. The Musketeers beat No. 50 Oklahoma State and No. 55 Creighton on the road, while Rutgers beat No. 25 Wisconsin and No. 38 Indiana.

Their NET ranking of No. 77 as of Sunday is the worst of all bubble teams. Three Quad 3/Quad 4 losses are a major reason it is so low. If Rutgers is ultimately selected for the NCAA Tournament, they will make history as having the worst NET ranking while earning a bid. St. John’s currently holds that distinction after being ranked No. 73 in 2019 on their way to the dance.

The Bracket Matrix is your best resource in keeping track of all the projections as we get closer to Selection Sunday. They have every projected bracket here and have a fully compiled rankings system that measures accuracy of these bracketology sites from the past five years here. The rankings include correctly picking the field but also seeding as well.

As of Sunday morning at midnight on March 13, Rutgers is projected in the NCAA Tournament by 90 of 143 bracketology sites listed. That’s an 62.9% inclusion rate in the field of 68 for all projections, which is down from 81% on Friday morning. RU’s average seed is 11.59, just 0.01 worse from two days ago. Their current projections are anywhere as high as a No. 10 seed to as low as being left out.

Got all that? Ok, let’s take a look at some notable picks.

The No. 1 ranked site over the past five years is appropriately named Crazy Sports Dude. He has included Rutgers all week and had them listed as the as the last team IN the field Saturday, March 12. However, he lists Virginia Tech as the last team out and they won the ACC’s automatic bid on Saturday night. I’ll update once the site posts a final update ahead of the Selection Show, but it might have Rutgers on the wrong side of the bubble.

The No. 2 ranked site over the past five years is Delphi Bracketology. They had Rutgers IN as a No. 11 seed playing No. 6 seed LSU in San Diego all week. However, as of Saturday, March 12 they dropped Rutgers so far down they didn’t even make the list for the final four teams OUT of the field. They alluded to this on Friday on Twitter when they had Rutgers at the top of the cut line. This was our interaction:

Just after midnight on Sunday, they tweeted this:

The No. 3 ranked site over the past five years is Heat Check CBB by Lukas Harkins. He had Rutgers as the first team OUT of the NCAA Tournament for most of the week. In his latest version on Saturday, March 12, Rutgers dropped to his fourth team OUT behind Xavier, Dayton and VCU. His last four in include Virginia Tech, SMU, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.

The No. 4 ranked site is Weber Sports Bracketology last updated their projections on March 9 and has Rutgers as the second to last team IN as a No. 12 seed on Wednesday playing SMU. Once there is an updated posted ahead of the Selection Show, I’ll revise their projection here.

The No. 5 ranked site is Boiling The Bracket has had Rutgers firmly IN the field this week. With the last update on March 11, RU is listed as the third to last team IN the field of 68. The only team in their last four out that has made a move is Virginia Tech so you would think they’re projected to be dancing on Sunday night.

Let’s move around a bit.

Dave Ommen runs Bracketville which is a very comprehensive site and ranks No. 9 over the past five years. He currently has Rutgers IN as a No. 10 seed comfortably in the tournament set to play No. 7 seed TCU in the first round. His latest was updated on March 12 and didn’t move their projection, which he tweeted on Saturday that RU was in his group of last four teams to receive a bye. This tweet is also extremely relevant to Rutgers and is why their projections for the NCAA Tournament are are all over the place.

Brad Wachtel was a guest on our podcast two weeks ago and runs Facts and Bracks. He ranks No. 17 over the last five years. He still has Rutgers as the third to last team IN playing Notre Dame in Dayton. He also tweeted this Sunday morning:

Another good one is The Bracketeer run by Rocco Miller. He like Ommen has Rutgers clearly IN as a No. 10 seed playing No. 7 seed Colorado State as of an update on March 10.

The Big Underdog site run by Jason Carmello ranks No. 33 over the past few years. He has Rutgers safely IN as the third 11 seed in the field as of March 12. He cited valuing Quad 1 wins over computer metrics but wonders what the committee will actually prioritize to make decisions.

I regard to some higher profile sites, Joe Lunardi of ESPN ranks No. 55 over the past five years. Even though he doesn’t rank as high, I respect Lunardi and think he’s lower due to seeding rather than projected teams in the field. He updated his projected field as of 9 pm on Saturday, March 12. He has Rutgers safely IN as an 11 seed facing No. 6 Alabama.

Jerry Palm of CBS ranks No. 100 over the last five years and as of Saturday, March 12, he has Rutgers as the last team OUT of the field with Michigan right behind them.

At 101st is Kerry Miller of the Bleacher Report who has Rutgers safely IN as an 11 seed playing against Colorado State. He updated at 1:50 am Sunday.

T3 Bracketology ranks No. 17 of 67 relatively new sites and listed Rutgers IN the field as of 1:30 am Sunday:

Lastly, SB Nation’s site Blogging the Bracket has been ranked No. 86 over the past five years. Chris Dobbertan runs the site and does a good job. He currently has Rutgers as the fourth team OUT after previously having them in.

I will post bracketology updates leading into Sunday night’s NCAA Tournament Selection Show. Remember to keep your tissues and tums ready.

I’ll leave you with a few takeaways regarding the bubble standing of Rutgers as we approach Sunday night.

Bubble Teams like Florida, Xavier, Wake Forest, Oregon and Notre Dame all lost their initial conference tournament games. Yes, so did Rutgers, but they were the only team that faced a top 15 NET opponent in their opening game in their respective conference tournament. Other bubble teams like Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Miami, and Creighton have helped their cause while Virginia Tech clinched an auto-bid from the ACC.

In terms of rooting interest on Sunday, Rutgers fans want Davidson to beat Richmond in the Atlantic 10 title game (ESPN 1 p.m. ET) or it means one team on the cusp of making the big dance will be cut. Texas A&M is firmly on the bubble and if they can beat Tennessee in the SEC championship game (CBS 1 p.m. ET) then they potentially knock another team out as well.

I made my case for Rutgers to make the NCAA Tournament here.

The bottom line is there is a major focus by some bracketologists to prioritize NET rankings as a major factor in the criteria for selecting a field of 68 teams. The true purpose of the NET as defined by the NCAA is to be able to categorize opponents into quadrants, not compare teams to one another based on their NET ranking. If other factors like the eye test and records vs. Quad games didn’t factor into the equation, there would be no need for a selection committee. The NCAA would just print out a list of teams and assign their seed accordingly. It doesn’t happen that way for a reason.

Every knowledgeable person I’ve spoken to within college basketball the past couple of weeks has considered Rutgers to be firmly in the field. They have played and look like a team that belongs in the NCAA Tournament. Let’s hope the committee prioritizes big wins over predictive metrics, which when you say that aloud, you start to wonder how it’s why wouldn’t they?

The hard part is that there are projections for Rutgers to be firmly in the field as a 10 or 11 seed to last team in, to last team out to not even on the last four out. It’s wild. Life of the bubble isn’t for the faint of heart.

Do what you have to do to get through the daytime and see you at 6:00 p.m. ET. Rutgers will be featured on the Selection Show by CBS and a camera will be filming live as the Scarlet Knights wait to learn their postseason fate. Can this group go dancing in back to back NCAA Tournaments for the first time since 1975-1976? We will find out soon enough.