Rutgers finds itself in a familiar position heading into the weekend — firmly on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament.
On Friday, the Scarlet Knights gave top-seeded Purdue all it could handle in the quarterfinal round of the Big Ten Tournament but fell short, 70-65, at the United Center in Chicago.
Rutgers (19-14, 10-10) has now played all games ahead of Selection Sunday, meaning its resume is finalized. The Scarlet Knights seem to be comfortably in the field after a win over Michigan on Thursday afternoon but there will still be a waiting game played on Sunday.
The Scarlet Knights have yet to win a quarterfinal game in the Big Ten Tournament, falling to 0-3 with this loss.
After an ugly offensive start against the Wolverines, Rutgers came out firing against Purdue. The Scarlet Knights built an early 12-point advantage but seemed to run out of gas last in the first half. Rutgers missed 19 of its final 25 shots heading into the break.
A Mason Gillis three capped a 24-11 run to end the first half for Purdue. Rutgers fell behind in the second half but had chances to cut into the lead on multiple occasions.
Derek Simpson scored a career-high 18 points to lead Rutgers in his second-consecutive start. Paul Mulcahy totaled 10 points and five assists.
Simpson converted a three-point play with four minutes left to get Rutgers to within four. It took Purdue just 40 seconds to build the lead back up to eight as the Scarlet Knights were unable to get over the hump from there.
Rutgers shot 40.3% from the field and knocked down six threes. In the first half, it was able to contain Zach Edey a bit but he got comfortable in the second half, finishing with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Gillis led the way for the Boilers with 20 points on 7-for-8 shooting.
The Scarlet Knights will now await their fate on Selection Sunday. After late-season struggles, Rutgers might have done enough in Chicago to hold onto its spot in the NCAA Tournament.