Rutgers Basketball Earning National Respect as Preseason Top 25 Team

Jacob Young, Rutgers Scarlet Knights. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
Jacob Young, Rutgers Scarlet Knights. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

The 2020-21 College Basketball season is still very far away (if it even happens) but the Rutgers Scarlet Knights are already looking pretty good.

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights are coming off a 2019-20 season where they went 20-11 and were in a good position to make the 2020 NCAA Tournament before it was canceled. Now, they have the task of repeating that season and hopefully making a run into the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

There are still transfers that have yet to find a landing spot, as well as the random preseason hype trains that come around and stop at different college towns every offseason. Still, their strong finish to the 2019-2020 season has Rutgers fans and college basketball analysts alike, optimistic for the near future of Rutgers basketball.

Rob Dauster of NBC Sports just included Rutgers as the 19th ranked team in his early Top 25 poll. He cites the number of core players returning as a major factor in why they belong in the top 20 of his ranking.

The Scarlet Knights won’t return front-court captains Akwasi Yeboah and Shaq Carter next year. The two were captains and starters, so it hurts, but not enough to look at Rutgers as a team that won’t be returning tons of their core and depth.

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Most of their best players will be back, and head coach Steve Pikiell has proven himself. Rutgers home-court momentum should be shifting over to next season, and winning that last game of the season on the road against a Purdue team that was playing great basketball at the moment, was a big-time statement for what this team can do moving forward.

They’re not just a team that shows up at home (18-1 at the RAC this past year) and is iffy on the road. They’ve proven that they can win outside of Piscataway, and should be carrying that momentum to 2020-2021 and making a jump to being more consistent.

Inconsistency was the reason Rutgers got bounced from the AP poll last year, they finished strong, but not enough for the poll to trust them. Their brutal schedule kept them from sustaining the success that got them into the poll for the first time since 1979.

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If all goes as planned, they’ll be able to hold up next year and enter March Madness as an AP-recognized Top-25 squad.