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Rutgers left out of NCAA Tournament, Steve Pikiell feels team “did enough” to get in

The Scarlet Knights missed out on a third-consecutive trip to the big dance.

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

Many bracket experts out there had one glaring miss in predictions — Rutgers.

The Scarlet Knights were left out of the bracket and missed a chance at a third-consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. The absence came as a surprise to many. Head coach Steve Pikiell believes his team did enough to get in.

“I felt like we certainly did enough,” Pikiell said during a press conference following the Selection Show. “I thought we had a resume that stacked up with a lot of teams.”

In January, Rutgers logged arguably the best win of the year, handing top-ranked Purdue its first loss of the season on the road. The Scarlet Knights added wins against Indiana and Penn State over the course of the season but the committee did not believe it was enough.

The decision can be broken down into two parts — non-conference scheduling and late-season losses.

After beating Michigan State at Madison Square Garden, the Scarlet Knights moved to 8-4 in Big Ten play. In this game, Mawot Mag went out for the season with a torn ACL. Interestingly enough, the committee highlighted this injury as a factor in its decision.

“It did change our team a bit (when Mawot got hurt), but I think we did a lot of good things this year,” Pikiell said. “They were supposed to take into account our entire schedule and our whole body of work, but again they have a tough job. I don’t envy their work, but I guess we didn’t do enough when I thought we were right there with everybody else.”

From that moment on, Rutgers lost six of its final eight games in the regular season. This includes two Quad 3 losses to Nebraska and Minnesota. This comes after a non-conference slate that ranked 314th in NET Rankings and 343rd in KenPom’s efficiency rankings.

In previous years, the non-conference scheduling has been a problem for Rutgers. It might not have slipped up in any contest this year but ins ere not enough to move the needle.

“We will figure out our schedule at another time,” Pikiell said. “I don’t think that had anything to do with today. Our numbers were as high as they have ever been and much higher than last year. You have to win enough games to get in, whether it’s in conference or out of conference and obviously they felt like we didn’t.”

It will be interesting to see if Pikiell and Rutgers decides to bolster the early-season schedule in hopes that it has a positive impact come March.

Rutgers will accept a bid to the NIT and give the seniors one more chance to compete in the postseason. hill it is not the goal that they were hoping for, the Scarlet Knights will play more meaningful games in March.

“This is our third-straight postseason bid,” Pikiell said. “Anytime you can get a postseason bid, I’m not going to apologize for that. We had 19 wins and hopefully with some more to come this year. This group has been great. But every year our goal is to go to the NCAA tournament and compete for a national championship. That is what our goal is, but we didn’t achieve that this year. But we did a lot of really good things and this team continues on. 19 wins is more than last year and we did some really good things. Now we have a chance in the postseason here to continue playing.”