This season has been an undeniable disaster for Rutgers and by now, that story has become well known. The Scarlet Knights are not competitive, are losing an exorbitant amount of games, and are making Peter Pan Live look like a great success in comparison.
Simply put, things have gone horribly, horribly wrong.
Still, thanks to the Big Ten's conference rules, every team is invited to the Big Ten Tournament and the Scarlet Knights will be heading to Indianapolis to start play on Wednesday evening. Despite how badly things have gone over the course of the season for Rutgers, is there any hope for the team in Indianapolis?
Let's take a look.
With the team's horrid 1-17 record in Big Ten play, Rutgers find itself as the No. 14 seed in this year's Big Ten Tournament. This means that the Scarlet Knights will have to play on Wednesday in an opening round game against the No. 11 seeded Nebraska Cornhuskers. Despite Nebraska having a losing record this season, Rutgers is actually going to be a significant underdog in this game, as KenPom gives Rutgers just a 14 percent chance to win.
Simply put, Rutgers is going to need a massive upset to even get out of the opening round. Maybe that sounds pessimistic, but it's reality. In fact, Rutgers lost twice against Nebraska during the regular season and failed to stay within 20 points in either contest. The Scarlet Knights are going to have to hope for a big performance out of Corey Sanders and an off shooting night for players like Nebraska's Jack McVeigh and Andrew White.
If They Advance
If Rutgers can somehow pull off the upset against Nebraska, the team would then move on to face a Wisconsin team that has been red hot down the stretch. The Badgers have won 11 of the team's last 13 games with the only losses coming on the road to ranked Michigan State and Purdue teams. Given that Wisconsin is a much better team than Nebraska, the odds of a Rutgers upset would certainly be incredibly low.
During the regular season, Rutgers and Wisconsin faced off just once with the Badgers grabbing a 79-57 win in Piscataway - it was revenge for that epic Rutgers upset during the 2014-15 season. Wisconsin got great production from Ethan Happ and Zak Showalter during the victory as the two combined for 37 points.
If Rutgers doe somehow beat Wisconsin, the Scarlet Knights would then move on to face Maryland. After that, the team would have a potential semi-final game (likely) against Michigan State and a title matchup (likely) against Indiana, Iowa, or Purdue. Needless to say, someone is probably more likely to get hit by lightning than to see Rutgers go on this kind of run.
Realistically speaking, the big hope for Rutgers has to be to upset Nebraska on Wednesday. This is a team that has one win over a Big Ten opponent in 33 tries, so asking for more than a win is simply unrealistic. It's been a disastrous season for the Scarlet Knights, but perhaps the team can put a nice finish on things in Indy.