The Big Ten only had one game on the docket on Monday. However, the lone matchup figured to be an important one for the league’s postseason hopes, as Rutgers traveled to face Nebraska in a game that projected to be a clincher for the Scarlet Knights’ NCAA hopes.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Nebraska Cornhuskers 72, Rutgers Scarlet Knights 51
There’s often a tendency in sports coverage for reporters to act unfazed by anything within their respective sport. You generally get comments about how they might not have predicted the result, but thought it was possible. Nothing ever takes them by surprise.
Well, let me be the first to say this result was unexpected.
Nobody thought this game would end like this. Nebraska beating Rutgers was foreseeable, but doing it by 21 points after entering the game as a sizable underdog? Get real.
But yes, that’s what happened on Monday night. As noted above, Rutgers entered the game hoping to put the final touches on its NCAA resume. Instead, it was blown out, finishing with a putrid 0.76 points per possession. The only Scarlet Knight who was even half decent offensively was Ron Harper and he finished with 10 points and a 101 offensive rating. Nebraska’s defense was simply phenomenal and Lat Mayen had a great game with 25 points and five rebounds.
What’s even more impressive about this win is Nebraska did it without star guard Teddy Allen, who announced before tip he would be sitting out to explore his professional opportunities. Allen had dominated Nebraska’s offensive output all season, so seeing Nebraska put together a performance like this is even more noteworthy.
It was a true team effort and Fred Hoiberg deserves some credit for what he’s done over the last few weeks. Nebraska could have easily given up on the season (after all, Allen did), but instead bought in and has now scored two straight wins. The Huskers will return to action on Thursday on the road against Iowa.
For Rutgers, this is a devastating loss. This season isn’t over and the team still has a chance to rebound with Minnesota on the road on Saturday, but things are going to be challenging. Rutgers is now down to a nine seed in TRank’s latest projections and only has a 65.3 percent chance of receiving an NCAA bid. That’s a significant step back from just a few days ago and should be cause for concern for fans. Even one more slip up might keep the Scarlet Knights out of the field. We’ll have to wait and see how the team responds to a loss like this.