Rutgers Scarlet Knights road to the NCAA Tournament 2020

Jacob Young, Rutgers Scarlet Knights. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Jacob Young, Rutgers Scarlet Knights. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights came into February on a two-game win streak. For the first time in 41 years, they have an AP Top 25 ranking.

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights men’s basketball team were headed to tough waters with their February games and they needed a road win almost desperately to stay in the tournament running.

The Knights hold not only a basketball in their hands but the hopes of their thousands of fans that maybe this could be the year. It has been 29 years since RU has gone to the NCAA tournament.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights fans are loud and loyal and take every opportunity to cheer their team. Whether it’s in the RAC (Rutgers Athletic Center) or the world’s most famous arena Madison Square Garden. Let’s take a look at what these fans cheered for in February.

  • Their first February game was in Madison Square Garden, against a Michigan team coming in with a nine-game MSG win streak. This game would be Michigan’s 10th. In the best game of his career, Michigan’s Brandon Jones, Jr. led his team to a 69-63 win.  Rutgers’ Montez Mathis had the high score for Rutgers with 17 points. The Scarlet Knights are projected to make the postseason but some are concerned that their lack of wins on the road will hinder them. They have only one road win thus far this season.
  • The Knights next traveled to Maryland where they take on No. 9 Maryland. The Terps shooting left a lot to be desired but their defense was enough to defeat Rutgers 56-51. Maryland’s 6-10 Jalen Smith was blocking everything that went up. Rutgers led at the half 25-20 but the Terrapins came out for the second half ready to defend and the Scarlet Knights had no answer.
  • In their space, the Scarlet Knights seem invincible as they defeated the Northwestern Wildcats 77-73 in overtime. With 25 points Geo Baker, Rutgers team captain, had his best game of the season. It was great for the team to have him back and playing to form since he broke his thumb in December. The Wildcats led by as much as 18 in the first half and early in the second half by 16.  Rutgers would not be defeated at home. Akwasi Yeboah contributed 13 points and Ron Harper, Jr. had 10 as they made their way back to defeat Northwestern.
  • Back on the road, the Scarlet Knights went to Ohio State. Rutgers bench provided 42 of their 66 points as Rutgers lost another game as the visitors. This marks the Scarlet Knights third loss in its last four games and knocked them back to sixth place in Big Ten standings. Jacob Young‘s 17 points led the scoring for Rutgers. Their captain Geo Baker had 13 and guard Paul Mulcahy had 12 off the bench.
  • As if to erase the previous losses from the minds of their fans the Rutgers Scarlet Knights came home with a fury defeating Illinois 72-57. This gives them a nation’s best home record at17-0. In a second half that saw the Illini floundering, the Scarlet Knights, led by Ron Harper, Jr. with 27 points, picked up their ninth conference win. The best since 1991 when they went 9-9 as part of the Big East.

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    Ron Harper Jr. had just 40 points in his last six games combined before going off on the Illini. It is known that Harper’s dad played three seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant.

    You can surmise that he has been grieving his “Unc.” Let’s hope that this past game against Illinois means he’s back to carry on his legacy. In order to get to the Tournament, the Scarlet Knights will need him and everything his “uncle” taught him.

    Rutgers is now third in Big Ten standings at 9-6 and18-8 overall. They are 17-0 at home, and 1-6 away. That 1-6 road record is troubling. Not many teams have gotten to the tournament with just one road win. Hopefully, the team will come away with at least one win against their remaining road teams which are Wisconsin, Penn State, and Purdue.

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    Rutgers will meet the Michigan Wolverines in the RAC on February 19.