Did I think I was going to blog about Rutgers this late in the season? Of course not. They were basically nothing after beating Purdue earlier in the year. That was the last time we talked about Rutgers. Well that changes. Why? Simple. They are officially a bubble team. They've won four in a row - vs Michigan State, Ohio State, at Wisconsin and vs Illinois. Pretty fucking good!
It's not like they are stealing games either. They beat Michigan State by 21. They beat Illinois by 11. They went to Wisconsin and won by 8. So why does this all matter? Simple. Rutgers is looking at an NCAA Tournament spot. It matters because there's a chance they steal one from a Big 10 member in Indiana. Now sure it's not a 1-for-1 type trade, BUT, these teams play each other. Just looking at BracketMatrix which was updated yesterday morning, Indiana is down to a 10 seed. There are for sure more vulnerable teams but Indiana needs a win bad, especially against Rutgers, another bubble team.
I know everyone will dismiss Rutgers because it's happening at home. Uh, yeah, that's how college basketball is. That's especially true for bubble teams. You win games at home, pull off upsets at home and just try to avoid bad losses. That's where Rutgers fucked up. They have losses to DePaul, Lafayette, UMass, Penn State, Minnesota, Maryland, Northwestern. Some aren't terrible, obviously on the road. But literally they just needed to beat a dogshit Lafayette and UMass team and Rutgers would be on the right side of the bubble already.
So what the hell is going on? Well, Steve Pikiell is a hell of a coach. Always has been, always will be. It's why Rutgers needs to lock him up to a long term deal fast. He's going to get poached or attempt to get poached at some point. On the floor it's mostly balanced. Look at what they did to Illinois. Nobody scored more than 16. Four guys were in double digits. They have two go-to guys in Harper and Baker. They have a damn good big man in Cliff. They have guys like Mulcahy and McConnell. Everyone is starting to understand their role, which is a serious thing.
Now it's simple. They go to Purdue, to Michigan, vs Wisconsin, at Indiana, vs Penn State. That's the remaining schedule. Win your two home games and steal one on the road, we gotta talk about Rutgers as a Tournament team on the right side of the bubble.
Hit the music.