Rutgers Scarlet Knights charging toward NCAA Tournament bid

Geo Baker, Rutgers Scarlet Knights. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
Geo Baker, Rutgers Scarlet Knights. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

Rutgers pulled off a stunning 71-68 overtime road win at Purdue on Saturday, The Scarlet Knights propelled themselves to a first-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament and may have locked down a place in the 2020 NCAA Tournament.

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights ended their 2019-2020 season with a heart-pounding overtime win over the Purdue Boilermakers 71-68. This was Rutgers’ first-ever win in West Lafayette, IN. Their second road win and 20 total wins have NCAA Tournament fever starting in for the first time since 1991.

Saturday’s 71-68 must-win at Purdue came after a thrilling victory over Maryland at the RAC in their previous game. Beating the Terps was such a great way to end the Knights homestand. The win capped off a near-perfect 18-1 home record.

Saturday’s clutch win was a fitting way to conclude Rutgers’ amazing season. The Knights finished in a four-way tie for fifth-place in the conference with Ohio State, Penn State, and Iowa. Those who don’t know this team’s record over the past few years just wouldn’t understand what an achievement this past season has been for Rutgers.

March 15 is Selection Sunday. The Rutgers Scarlet Knights fully expect to be part of the Big Dance. But first, they have the Big Ten Conference Tournament in Indianapolis, IN, starting on Thursday.

2019-20 season

  • Finished season with winning record 20-11, an overall winning percentage of .645.
  • First 20-win season since 2003-04.
  • First 20-win regular season since 1982-83.
  • Rutgers Scarlet Knights have the best home record,18-1 in the nation.
  • Finished in a four-way tie for fifth place in the Big Ten with an 11-9 record. Last season they tied with Illinois and Penn State for 10th place. Their first four years in Big Ten play, RU was dead last.
  • 11 conference victories are the highest total in 29 years.
  • Winning record rewards the Scarlet Knights with their first conference tourney bye in 25 years.

Team Leaders

Bubble watch

February’s wins were hard-fought but set Rutgers up for a trip to the NCAA tournament. It would be their first time in 26 years.

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has Rutgers as the No. 8 seed in the South Region. They would face LSU in the first round and if they win a likely meeting with the region’s top seed and No. 5 ranked Baylor.

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Jerry Palm of CBS Sports has Rutgers as part of his “Last 4 In.” According to him, the Knights would be in a “play-In” game for the 11th seed in the West Region against upstart UCLA.

If any team in college basketball deserves a place on the 68 team NCAA field it’s Rutgers. With its first winning season in Big Ten play, the Knights face the postseason determined to go far.

Next up

Rutgers second-round tournament matchup against Michigan is on March 12. In 13 total meetings with UM, the Scarlet Knights are winless. That’s right, their record is 0-13. The past futility doesn’t bother Pikiell, as he said in his post-Purdue presser, “We can play with anybody in the country. I feel that way about our team and I think our best days are ahead.”

Next. Rutgers Schiano showing signs of locking down New Jersey. dark

Which of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights do you see going to the NBA draft? Leave your answers in the comments section below.