Busting Brackets

Big Ten Basketball: Minnesota, Northwestern and Nebraska rise in latest power rankings

Illinois v Purdue
Illinois v Purdue / Justin Casterline/GettyImages
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13. Rutgers (9-6, 1-3)

The Scarlet Knights were added to the Big Ten nearly a decade ago and it wasn’t a move made because of their basketball prowess. Recent history had not been kind to Rutgers, though Steve Pikiell has done a great job rewriting that history. He led the Scarlet Knights to the Big Dance in back-to-back seasons before having their bubble burst at the end of last season. This accomplishment is phenomenally impressive, though this season has been a step backwards.

On opening night, Rutgers fell to a strong Princeton squad before running off five straight wins against weaker opponents. They won a nice game at Seton Hall in early December but have lost a lot of games in recent weeks, including their first three in conference play. They’ve had some tough early conference games, including an 18-point loss to Illinois and some road contests, but this team just doesn’t compare offensively to those recent Tournament teams, tough a home win over Indiana felt great on Tuesday.

The big names from those Tournament teams are all gone, leaving pieces like Cliff Omoruyi and Aundre Hyatt in large roles. There’s still potential for the Scarlet Knights, especially with how their defense has looked at times this season. On the other hand, they did just allow a season-high 86 at Iowa over the weekend and have been outmatched several times already this season. Enjoy the ride; just know getting out of the bottom half of the Big Ten is unlikely.