It’s been an exciting winter on the banks. The RAC has been alive and Rutgers basketball is having a season we haven’t seen in years. As they go into their match up with number 19 Iowa in Iowa City, they are ranked 24th in the nation according to the latest AP poll. It’s been 41 years since the last time Rutgers was inside the top 25. Head coach Steve Pikiell’s team is getting done with stingy defense, a deep bench, the emergence of a dominant big man in Myles Johnson, terrific guard play and strong leadership behind Jr. guard and team captain Geo Baker.
While it’s nice to be ranked, the real goal is returning to the NCAA tournament. That hasn’t happened in 29 years and it’s far from assured. The Big 10 conference is arguably the deepest in the country and every game is a battle. They’ve been perfect at home and that will have to continue because along with Iowa tonight, they have to travel to Maryland, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Penn State, and Purdue. All of those games will be a huge challenge. But with five conference wins and six matchups at home and one with Michigan at MSG, Rutgers has a good chance of finishing at least .500 in the conference, which should punch their ticket to the dance. So while it’s definitely exciting to enter the top 25, the team goal has not been reached. There is still a lot of work to be done.