The Jersey Boys aren’t going down without a fight.

Given up for dead after putting together one of the worst nonconference performances possible for a power conference program, Rutgers is somehow wriggling out of those cement shoes.

After beating Ohio State 66-64 with a dramatic 10-0 run to close Wednesday night’s game, the Scarlet Knights own 3 wins over teams still in contention for the Big Ten regular-season title: No. 3 Purdue, the No. 16 Buckeyes and No. 17 Michigan State.

The other 2 teams in the title race are still ahead on the schedule in the coming week. Rutgers visits Wisconsin on Saturday before hosting Illinois on Feb. 16. And if that wasn’t grueling enough, the Scarlet Knights top it off with a return trip to Purdue on Feb. 20.

Due to the mess Rutgers made for itself before New Year’s, a win in any of those 3 upcoming games might still be necessary for its tournament push to continue growing legs.

An inexplicable losing streak

Rutgers was an obvious dark horse pick to contend for the Big Ten title thanks to the experience it had returning from last year’s team, which was the school’s first to reach the NCAA Tournament since 1991.

Team leaders Geo Baker and Ron Harper Jr. are both seniors, as is forward Caleb McConnell. Point guard Paul Mulcahy is a junior. Combined with the fact fans would be allowed into raucous Jersey Mike’s Arena this season, Rutgers had all the ingredients to be a factor.

Which makes what happened in late November completely baffling.

After starting the season 3-0, the Scarlet Knights dropped 3 straight games to DePaul, Lafayette and UMass. None of them were blowouts — Rutgers lost by a combined 7 points. But the damage was immense.

The Blue Demons (105th), Leopards (321st) and Minutemen (167th) each represent Quad 3 and 4 losses and have jammed the Scarlet Knights at 99th in the NCAA’s NET rankings. To put that in perspective, Rutgers is a spot behind Grand Canyon. (The school, not the national landmark.)

Road wins are a must

Of the 98 teams ranked ahead of Rutgers in NET, only 2 have a worse road winning percentage than the Scarlet Knights. They are No. 49 Mississippi State (0-5) and No. 57 West Virginia (1-5).

Rutgers is only 2-7 away from Jersey Mike’s, and one of those wins is at Nebraska. Nebraska might as well count as a half-win this season.

The Scarlet Knights could desperately use a quality road win or 2 in order to erase the stain of the Lafayette loss. In that regard, the schedule bears news both good and bad.

Rutgers’ 4 remaining road games are all Quad 1 opportunities. And for precisely that reason, none of them are going to be easy. In addition to the previously mentioned trips to Wisconsin and Purdue, Rutgers visits Michigan (Feb. 23) and Indiana (March 2).

Of those games, Michigan is clearly the most winnable. The Scarlet Knights already beat the Wolverines at Jersey Mike’s. But like Rutgers, Michigan will likely be in must-win mode for that game as it tries to salvage its own tournament hopes.

If Rutgers, currently 14-9, can make it to the Big Ten tournament at 18-12, there’s a good chance it would squeeze to the inside of the bubble with just 1 win in Indianapolis. That’s how strong the rest of the schedule is.

Mathematically, getting to 18-12 requires at least 1 more road win.

Thus, road wins are a must.

Why Rutgers has a chance

You can’t put a price on desperation. That much was evident in the comeback against the Buckeyes, which Rutgers sprung following the game’s final media timeout with 3:48 remaining.

The crucial play in the turnaround was a block by McConnell, who also finished with 4 steals. Baker, who is in the home stretch of his college career, had 8 of his game-high 25 points in the 10-0 closing rally.

Harper wasn’t there offensively against Ohio State, but his 17 points against Michigan State were instrumental in Rutgers’ previous upset win.

The rapid improvement of Mulcahy might be Rutgers’ biggest reason for optimism, though.

In 4 games since being held scoreless against Maryland, Mulcahy has taken off. He is averaging 17 points and 6.8 assists per game, and Rutgers is 3-1 in those games. The lone loss was a 79-78 defeat at Northwestern in which the Scarlet Knights erased a 24-point deficit before falling in overtime.

Given the hole it started in, there’s still a chance a deep run through the Big Ten tournament may end up being Rutgers’ only viable path to a second straight NCAA bid.

But given this team’s makeup, I wouldn’t count out the Scarlet Knights until the minute the tournament selection committee officially declares them dead and buried.