It’s Selection Sunday and Rutgers is in as good of a place as it could’ve hoped for after a great Saturday on the bubble. Going into the weekend there were 5 bid stealers left in contention for their respective conference tournament titles. Every single one lost.
#Rutgers goes 5-0 today. All 5 bid stealers lost and Rutgers is likely on the line between Dayton and the final bye.— Jack Schocket (@JSchocket) March 12, 2023
Most folks are concerned with Rutgers being placed in the dreaded “First Four” in Dayton, OH. While this certainly isn’t ideal, the Scarlet Knights will be just fine wherever the committee chooses to place them, so long as they don’t leave Rutgers out entirely. Below we’ll check out Rutgers's resume and attempt to place it in the field.
As per usual, the Scarlet Knights have one of the weirdest resumes in college basketball. Rutgers ranks 40 in the all-important NET, and they own road victories over Purdue, Northwestern, and Penn State (all Quad 1 games), as well as a 10-10 record against Quads 1 & 2 overall. This part of their resume is impressive, but the committee also has to take into account a 2-4 Quad 3 record which is the worst of any team projected to be in the field.
Bracket Matrix currently has Rutgers listed as an 11 seed and 101/105 brackets have Rutgers in the field of 68. The other 11 seeds in the Bracket Matrix Consensus are Providence, Mississippi State, NC State, Pitt, and Arizona State. Every bubble team has a complex resume, hence why they’re on the bubble at this time.
Providence has a NET of 55, is 6-10 against the top 2 Quads, but has only one Quad 3 loss. The latter is why many have them above Rutgers, and the former is why you could argue for Rutgers’s supremacy.
Mississippi State is 48 in the NET rankings, has an 8-11 record against Quad 1 and Quad 2, and has just one loss in Quad 3. NC State’s NET is 45, they’re 8-10 against the top 2 Quads (although just 1-6 against Quad 1), and they have no losses in Quads 3 and 4.
Arizona State and Pitt have eerily similar resumes as they have NETs in the 60s, a near .500 record against Quad 1 and Quad 2, and each owns a Quad 4 loss. I believe that because of their NET and Quad 4 losses, Rutgers should be firmly ahead of these 2 teams.
That leaves Rutgers in a group of 4 teams vying for the final 2 bye spots. Rutgers holds the highest NET of the four, has far and away the best win (road Purdue), and the best record against Quads 1 and 2.
The problem for the Scarlet Knights is once again the 4 Quad 3 losses. No other team in this group has more than one. While the committee may take into account that Rutgers was without two starters against Temple and that Seton Hall is just 3 spots from Quad 2, there’s no guarantee that they will.
Where Rutgers ends up among this group is very dependent on what the committee values. If they value good wins, Rutgers may end up at the top of it, but if they value consistency and avoiding bad losses, Rutgers is likely at the bottom.
Without a loss to Minnesota, Rutgers is all but a lock for the field of 64. However, that’s just not how it goes sometimes and you’ve got to roll with the punches. A win over Michigan and a dogfight vs Purdue put Rutgers back in a pretty good spot, and the Scarlet Knights are likely to be somewhere along the 11 line, but there are no guarantees in March.
Could Rutgers be a 10 seed? Yes. Could Rutgers be left out completely? Yes. In the words of Jon Rothstein “Anarchy? Nope. Just College Basketball.”