Rutgers Men’s Basketball Makes the NCAA Tournament for the First Time in 40 Years

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Party like it’s 1991! The Rutgers Men’s Basketball team made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1991, 30 years ago. In 1991, the number one song was “Someday” by Mariah Carey and the number one show on TV was “60 Minutes”. Micheal Jordan had just won his first championship and the Giants were the champions of the NFL. That is a long, long time.

Head coach Steve Pikiell exclaimed, “I’m really excited for Rutgers nation.”

Senior captain Geo Baker stated, “When we saw our name get called, it was everything we had dreamed of, everything weve been waiting for.”

This season they finished with a 15-11 record, and 10-10 in the Big Ten Conference. Last season Rutgers was highly expected to make the NCAA tournament, but due to the Coronavirus pandemic the tournament was cancelled and that ended the season.

This year the NCAA tournament will look a lot different, with it all taking place inside the state of Indiana, in a bubble format. They arranged it this way to protect the tournament from being affected by COVID-19. The games will feature fans at a certain capacity, 25% at most places.

The Scarlet Knights were set to play Clemson in the first round, the 10 seed vs. the 7 seed, Rutgers being the 10 seed. Despite being a higher seed, the Knights were favored to win the game. The game took place at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home of the NBA team the Indiana Pacers.

The game started out as a tight contest, with both teams going back and forth. At halftime, the score was 26-23, Rutgers down by 3. Towards the end of the game, the Scarlet Knights got out to an 11 point lead, but Clemson stormed back. They tied the game up at 55 with just 4 minutes to go. In the final seconds, Rutgers guard Geo Baker hit a layup to put Rutgers up 4 with under 10 seconds to go. Game over.

Rutgers had won its first NCAA tournament game in 38 years, now headed to the second round. Guards Caleb McConnell, Jacob Young, and Geo Baker all lead the way for the Scarlet Knights with 13 points. They were now headed to the second round to play the 2 seeded Houston Cougars.

In the next round, Houston was favored over Rutgers, and they were coming into the game as a big underdog. Rutgers got out to an early lead, and were up 3 at halftime, 30-27. With about 10 minutes to go in the game, Rutgers got out to their largest lead, up by 11. Like the first round game, Houston came storming back, and with just over 4 minutes to go, Rutgers was up just 5. In a devastating final 4 minutes for the Scarlet Knights, they blew the lead and Houston won, 63-60. Rutgers was now out of the NCAA tournament.

Despite the heartbreaking loss, Rutgers had nothing to be ashamed of. They played a historic season and played their hearts out.

Head coach Steve Pikiell said after the game, “We played our hearts out. This team made history.”

Rutgers became a name to know this year in the college basketball world, and they will be back in the coming years.