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Rutgers Basketball: Scarlet Knights In 2012 NCAA Tournament Hunt

In case you missed it Monday night, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights earned another solid Big East Conference victory downing the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 65-58, at the Louis Brown Athletic Center in Piscataway, NJ. The victory was the third quality win for the Scarlet Knights (11-8, 3-3 Big East) at the RAC this season, and all of a sudden Rutgers, led by second-year head coach Mike Rice, is knocking (okay, tapping) on the NCAA Tournament door.

After the jump, more on Rutgers chances of making the 2012 NCAA Tournament...

So far this season, Rutgers has knocked off two future NCAA Tournament programs -- No. 17-ranked (then No. 10) Florida Gators, Dec. 29, and No. 13 (then No. 8) Connecticut Huskies, Jan. 8 -- and showed that it can win on the road when they defeated host Pittsburgh Panthers, Jan. 11.

Add Monday's victory over UND and the Scarlet Knights do have a decent winning resume that favors them for a postseason bid.

Currently, the Scarlet Knight have 11 Big East contests remaining and about four of them -- vs. DePaul Blue Demons, at Providence Friars, vs. Villanova Wildcats, vs. St. John's Red Storm -- could be considered "winnable" games. Rutgers has also proved that they can beat Notre Dame (who they play again) and still have contests against struggling Louisville and home-and-home series with New Jersey-rival the Seton Hall Pirates.

If the Scarlet Knight can somehow manage to go .500 in the league, with victories over some of those top-tier programs, it will have a solid case to receive an at-large bid into March Maddness -- that's assuming they don't win the Big East Tournament.

However, what is going to kill Rutgers is its Real Time RPI rating, which is 147 out of 344 programs and that's not good with a strength of schedule currently ranked 119th toughest in the nation -- teams like St. John's, Providence, Villanova and Penn have better resumes.

In conclusion, Rutgers has had a solid start to its season and may well be on its way to the postseason, but it could be a stretch to say a NCAA Tournament bid is in its future.

Scarlet Knights Basketball Schedule

Next 5 Games

@ Georgetown Sat 01/21 12:00 PM EST
DePaul Wed 01/25 7:00 PM EST
Cincinnati Sat 01/28 6:00 PM EST
@ Providence Wed 02/01 7:00 PM EST
@ Louisville Sat 02/04 4:00 PM EST

Last 5 Games

Notre Dame Mon 01/16 W 65 - 58
@ West Virginia Sat 01/14 L 60 - 84
@ Pittsburgh Wed 01/11 W 62 - 39
Connecticut Sat 01/07 W 67 - 60
West Virginia Wed 01/04 L 64 - 85

For more on the Scarlet Knights, check out the SB Nation blog On The Banks.