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Rutgers Scarlet Knights B1G Tournament Outlook

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The Scarlet Knights may be longing for the days of the AAC, but their first Big Ten Tournament is upon them and they can make up for a lost season by winning a game or two and ending the year on a high note.

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There are not many nice ways to describe how the season went for Rutgers, so I'm not going to try and sugarcoat it. Rutgers had a bad year. Their first year in the Big Ten went about as poorly as Maryland's went excellently. The Scarlet Knights lost to teams like St. Francis (PA) and Saint Peter's at home, but beat St. Francis (NY) to avoid the humiliating Saint Sweep (might not be a thing) that has never been recorded in modern college basketball history.

Rutgers entered conference play with a record of 8-5, and despite the embarrassing losses even had two good wins to hang their hat on, notching W's at Clemson and against Vanderbilt. Things started off well in Big Ten play too, splitting their first four games including a mystifying and, at the time, program defining victory over the No. 4 ranked Badgers of Wisconsin to push their record to 10-7. Since that game, which was played on January 11th, Rutgers has not won a basketball game. The closest they've come is a four point loss to Michigan, and Michigan has playing mostly walk-ons, from what I can tell, for much of the season.

So, yeah, Rutgers didn't do so hot in the regular season. Their record is 10-22 overall and 2-16 in conference. Right now their biggest accomplishment is being such a blight on Wisconsin's resume that even if the Badgers win the conference tournament, to go 31-3 on the year, they won't receive a one-seed in the NCAA Tournament unless some other top teams lose. All of this will be forgotten though if Rutgers can put together a run in the conference tournament and ruin some bubble teams' seasons.

The Scarlet Knights are seeded 14th in the tournament and play No. 11 seed Minnesota on Wednesday night at 7 pm ET/6 pm CT for the right to play No. 6 seed Ohio State on Thursday night. Rutgers played the Gophers once this year, losing 89-80 at The Barn in Minneapolis. Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack lead the way for RU, which has been the case for just about every Rutgers game in the last two seasons. Mack had 26 points, eight assists, six rebounds, and two steals while Jack chipped in 19 points and five boards. Bishop Daniels provided a capable third option, adding 13 points and four assists.

The main problem for Rutgers in their game against Minnesota was turnovers. The Gophers are excellent at forcing them and Rutgers isn't careful with the ball even when playing bad defensive teams. It is really a perfect storm of turnovers for Minnesota. In their one meeting this year, Rutgers had 19 turnovers which was a TO% of 26. Their season TO% is only 20, and it's funny to say "only" here because that rating is 229th best in the country.

Rutgers has played a tough schedule this year, so they won't be intimidated by having to potentially play multiple games in a row, and they'll want to send Mack and Jack out on a high note since the next time they lose will be their last game in a Rutgers uniform.