Rutgers is the Cinderella the NCAA tournament needs

Rutgers lost 70-65 to Purdue in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament

Rutgers lost 70-65 to Purdue in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament
photo: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire (AP)

CHICAGO — In just a few days, almost every American will be doing the same thing – filling in a bracket. And while people decide which 12-over-5 excitement they will pick or which team could make a deep tournament out of nothing, I’m here to tell you that the first game of the day is Friday at the Big Ten Tournament gave you the right answer. Because even though No. 9 Rutgers lost to No. 1 Purdue 70-65 at the United Center, they caught the attention of the field.

Even if you lose, sometimes you win.

“They are obviously an NCAA tournament team. I think they can do real damage,” the Purdue head coach said Matt Painter after the game.

If you’re reading this because you’re confused about how Rutgers could be the bracket-busting team, don’t feel bad. The Scarlet Knights finished ninth in the Big Ten, have a 19-14 record and lost to Temple and Seton Hall this season – a game in which they only managed 43 points. This is also a program with only eight tournament appearances in the program’s history. In fact, her most infamous moment might have been when former head coach Mike Rice became a national story 2012 when he was suspendedThen firedafter a video of him Pushing, grabbing, and throwing balls at players while using gay slurs during practice was exposed.

Rutgers fires basketball coach after video

A thorn in Purdue’s side

But that was then and that is now. And in recent years, Rutgers Purdue — one of the best teams in the Big Ten and the country — has been a thorn in its side. Before Friday’s game, the Scarlet Knights were 5-1 in their last six games against the Boilermakers.

In 2021, they upset Purdue No. 1 on their home floor in New Jersey.

And in January, they upset Purdue No. 1 — again. But this time it was in West Lafayette.

Aside from some bad officials late in the game, the result of Friday’s game saw Purdue shoot 14 more free throws than Rutgers and defeat the Scarlet Knights on the boards at seven. But in a back-and-forth game that was tight almost throughout, it was Rutgers that held the greatest lead of the game as it rose by 12 in the first half.

According to ESPN bracket guru Joe Lunardi, Rutgers has done enough to make the 68’s field. However, nothing is set in stone until selection Sunday.

When Rutgers started playing in the Big Ten in 2014, it felt like the conference was just doing it to conquer the New York television market, since conference realignments are all about money, media rights, and soccer — even if the team sucks. But nearly a decade later, Rutgers has become a nuisance to one of the better teams in the conference as they have emerged as Purdue’s nemesis. March has a team that most people have ignored a lot of confidence and has The best beaten is only the team that can destroy your bracket on day one. It was Saint Peter’s – another school in Jersey – last year. It could be the Scarlet Knights this year. Rutgers is the Cinderella the NCAA tournament needs

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