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Losing to Rutgers: The Survival Guide

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Don’t worry, it’ll happen to all the Big Ten teams...eventually.

Northwestern v Rutgers Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

So we lost to Rutgers.

For many Big Ten men’s basketball fans, this is something that seemed impossible. For Northwestern fans, this is something we always feared but never thought possible with this group. Coming into last night, Rutgers had 8 Big Ten regular season wins since joining the conference in 2014-15. That’s it. 8 conference wins in three and two-thirds seasons (plus one win over Ohio State last year in the Big Ten Tournament).

You weren’t ready. No one is ever ready for a loss to Rutgers. Yet here we are.

Look, outside of the big/revenue sports (football and basketball), losing to Rutgers is somewhat respectable. Rutgers women’s basketball is 6-7 in the Big Ten and 13-2 at home. That’s not too shabby! Northwestern wrestling just lost to a top-25 Rutgers team. Are there any other sports where Rutgers should be beating Northwestern? Um...no. However, these examples show that losing to Rutgers as an institution is not actually that bad. It’s a good school. I have friends who go there and I respect them greatly.

But you wouldn’t be reading this article if you were talking about the women’s basketball team or wrestling. And yes, to be fair, losing to Rutgers is a terrible, terrible fate. But don’t panic. My name is Tristan Jung, noted Rutgers expert at Inside NU, and here’s how to react to losing to Rutgers.

(Background music)

1. DO NOT LOOK AT THE KENPOM RATINGS!

Look, after every win or loss, it’s habitual for some fans to load up their subscription to kenpom.com and look up Northwestern’s advanced stats. We have a commenter here (hello macarthur31) who does this after every game.

Dear macarthur31, take the day off. Losing to Rutgers never does anything good for your advanced stats. For one, Rutgers has committed to playing some of the most ugly basketball you’ll ever see. The Scarlet Knights have the second-worst effective field goal percentage in the entire country. Yes, they are 350th out of 351 teams. They have a top-16 defense, but are committed to smothering you into oblivion with blocks and physical play. Northwestern’s offensive stats aren’t that good anyway, but I’m pretty sure the Wildcats fell about 10 spots in the adjusted offensive efficiency metrics.

Wait a second, why am I looking at the advanced stats? It’s incredibly depressing. WE JUST LOST TO RUTGERS OH MY GOSH WHAT ARE WE EVEN DOING?

2. REMIND YOURSELF RUTGERS IS IN THE BIG TEN!

I’m better now.

Look, Rutgers is in the Big Ten, and Jim Delany will eventually give the Scarlet Knights their money. Eventually. Look Rutgers, you signed a contract that won’t give you full TV revenues until 2020-2021. No one forced you to sign that contract! You could’ve stayed in the American!

Rutgers is a basketball program on the rise...kinda. Well, it is rising from the depths of Tartarus to a slightly more affluent suburb on the banks of the River Styx. Steve Pikiell was a damn good coach at Stony Brook. I believe in what he’s doing, and I’m pretty sure the administration does as well. Rutgers’ recovery may seem hardly better than what happened before, but trust me, recovering from the giant mess of the Eddie Jordan era was always going to take at least four years.

And I mean, they aren’t awful this year. They aren’t 2015-16 bad. They aren’t 2017-18 Pitt bad. Rutgers beat a ranked Seton Hall team earlier this year (ignore that Seton Hall has lost three straight and really needs to step it up to ensure a spot in the NCAA Tournament). Rutgers almost beat Florida State and Purdue at home. The line for this game was only three points, after all. It’s not like Northwestern was an overwhelming favorite. Unless Northwestern lost in incredibly embarrassing fashion, this couldn’t have been that bad of a loss.

Wait, Northwestern was up by 6 points with less than a minute left? Did the game end on a 17-2 Rutgers run?

Never mind. That’s very bad. Rutgers lost by 31 at Illinois a couple weeks ago. That should not be happening. This is turning into a really bad survival guide.

3. THERE’S ALWAYS FOOTBALL!

Northwestern gets to play Rutgers for the first time ever this fall. Just remember that. Also, always remember that Purdue lost to Rutgers last year. While you’re at it, remember that Lovie Smith lost to Darrell Hazell after Hazell triple-iced the Illinois kicker.

4. REMEMBER THAT BASKETBALL IS A DUMB GAME...

...and that you probably attended one of the best schools in the world. I hate to use “we’re a smart school” as a justification, but it’s not for superiority’s sake. I’m employing the tool to remind you that your life is (hopefully) pretty darn good, and a loss to Rutgers in a down season for men’s basketball won’t mean anything in the long run. How many Rutgers grads do you know? Whom is going to talk smack about this?

5. IT CAN ALWAYS GET WORSE

2013:

2008:

2000:

Don’t worry, Northwestern fans. Those days are over forever.

6. EAT LOTS OF HEALTHY SNACKS

The last thing you want to do is poison your body even more by consuming unhealthy snacks. May I suggest some healthy legumes or a nice kale salad? Go vegan for the day! Eat some fresh fruit! Make a smoothie! Drink kombucha! Don’t binge eat ice cream...it’ll make you feel even worse.

Ah darn, I just ate a pint of ice cream.

How about next time we don’t lose to Rutgers, okay?