Rutgers looks to improve NCAA seeding vs. reeling Indiana

·2 min read

Rutgers appears headed to its first NCAA Tournament trip since 1991.

But the Scarlet Knights (14-10, 10-10 Big Ten) have a chance to improve their NCAA seeding in the Big Ten tournament beginning Thursday night when they face reeling Indiana (12-14, 7-12 Big Ten) in Indianapolis.

As the seven-seed in the tournament, Rutgers has beaten 10-seed Indiana twice during the regular season, including a recent 74-63 win in Piscataway, N.J., on Feb. 24.

The winner of the game will face No. 2-seed Illinois on Friday night.

Rutgers is coming off a 77-70 overtime win at Minnesota to close the regular season.

"It's that time of the year," Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said. "We've had some great games this year where we've played great. Hopefully, we'll learn from a lot of lessons that we've had."

The Scarlet Knights have been led all season by the trio of Jacob Young (14.5 points, 36.6 percent from 3-point range), Ron Harper Jr. (15.3 points, 5.9 rebounds) and Geo Baker (10.2 points). Inside, Myles Johnson (8.3 points, 60 blocked shots) has protected the rim. Harper earned third-team All-Big Ten honors on Tuesday, while Johnson was named to the All-Big defensive team.

"You've got to go into a tournament like this -- loose and ready to play," Pikiell said. "You're going to play great teams. There's going to be some obstacles, but everyone knows each other so well."

The Hoosiers have lost five straight and are coming off a 67-58 loss at rival Purdue on Saturday. Indiana has failed to score more than 58 points in each of its last three games and has struggled from the perimeter of late, going 7-for-43 from 3-point range over its last two games.

"It's been a frustrating year because I feel like we've been right there, so many times, to be able to have big breakthrough opportunities," Indiana coach Archie Miller said on his radio show Monday. "To not come up and get them, as a coach I think you eat those more than the losses and the wins."

Indiana's second-leading scorer Armaan Franklin (11.6 points) has missed the last three games with a foot injury and remains questionable for Thursday's game against Rutgers. The Hoosiers will be looking to get leading scorer Trayce Jackson-Davis (19.1 points, 9.0 rebounds) back on track. Jackson-Davis, who earned second-team, All-Big Ten honors on Tuesday, is averaging 10.3 points and 5.3 rebounds over his last three games.

--Field Level Media