This is why Rutgers joined the Big 10. Last Friday, the first sell out was held at the RAC in November in 21 years. There has been very little excitement at the RAC for some time. A lousy team getting outplayed by mostly marginal competition will do that. But that’s all changing. Rutgers, on Wednesday, had a huge road win upsetting 21st ranked Miami in Miami. Two days later they hosted 9th ranked Michigan State to open up the Big 10 schedule. It would have been nice to have a little more time to rest and prepare for one of the top teams in the Big 10 but as coach Steve Pikiell said, “ We play the schedule we’re given”. And it’s not an easy one considering the Big 10 has seven teams in the top 25.
Early in Friday’s much hyped game, Rutgers picked up where it left off in Miami. They took an early lead and went blow to blow with one of the top teams in the country. RU went into the half only down by two. They eventually ran out of steam in the second half, allowing Michigan State to open a double digit lead behind the play of the best point guard in the conference, Cassius Winston. State rolled the rest of the way but there was no reason for RU to hang their head. They ran into one of the best teams in the country and did not have enough, for now. I repeat, for now. Rutgers will be more than competitive in this league as they build for the future. Some very promising recruits in Ron Harper Jr., Montez Mathis and Myles Johnson join Eugene Omoruyi, Issa Thiam and rising star Geo Baker to provide a deep and formidable group of talent for coach Pikiell. There hasn’t been this much promise in Piscataway in a long time.
Coming to the RAC this season, Maryland, Ohio St, Northwestern, Nebraska, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota and Penn State. With a competitive team going up against this schedule, it is easy to see why there is a big buzz around Rutgers basketball this year. The Big 10 is arguably the best conference in college basketball this season and you want to test yourself against the best. If Rutgers basketball continues it’s progress, expect more sell outs on the banks.