Rutgers entered a two-game stretch with a chance to earn a statement win that could help the team make a case for the NCAA Tournament.
It began with a lopsided affair at Illinois before returning home to host No. 2 Purdue, a team that the Scarlet Knights have beaten three times in a row.
Rutgers came out slow, finishing with just nine field goals in the first half and trailed by double-digits at the break. A second-half run saw Rutgers come within two but Purdue was too much for the Scarlet Knights. Zach Edey scored his 2,000th point and the Boilermakers snapped a losing streak against Rutgers.
Now, the Scarlet Knights fall closer to .500 at 10-9 and are just 2-6 in Big Ten play. The question remains, is there any hope for a return to the NCAA Tournament?
If there is, it is very slim and it will take a run either in the regular season or in the Big Ten Tournament.
Right now, Rutgers does not have any wins to hang their hats on. The Scarlet Knights are just 1-9 against Quad 1 teams, with that one victory being against in-state rival Seton Hall. While this win carried weight in the Garden State, it is not enough to carry Rutgers to the big dance. When looking at the schedule, another weak out-of-conference slate will not be helpful.
Rutgers scheduled a better slate than previous years but it is still not up to par with what is needed to gain wins that carry weight with the committee. Rutgers has just one Quad 2 game as of now, a win over Nebraska, and is 8-0 in Quads 3 & 4. Let’s not forget that one of these games was a one-point win at home against Stonehill.
The youngsters for the Scarlet Knights impressed against Purdue and will have a chance to grow further for the remainder of the season. This include Jamichael Davis and Gavin Griffiths while Derek Simpson continues to run the offense. All three pieces are expected to return and provide depth next season while Dylan Harper and Ace Bailey come to town.
The Scarlet Knights will take on Purdue once more this season and have two matchups left with Wisconsin. Truth be told, the team must come away 3-0 if they want to get into the NCAA Tournament. Or, of course, win the Big Ten Tournament. There is nothing wrong with positivity moving forward and there is still plenty to watch with the Scarlet Knights, but the NCAA Tournament remains a pipe dream.