The basketball mecca may be Madison Square Garden, but Garden State is the capital of the local college basketball scene this year.
For the first time, Seton Hall (10) and Rutgers (24) were ranked in the same Associated Press survey on Monday. It is the first national ranking for Rutgers since March 13, 1979. For Seton Hall, the top 10 ranking is the highest since 8th place on December 19, 2000.
The last time the two rivals went to the NCAA tournament in the same year as 1991 was the last time Rutgers danced.
Both have had great weeks. Seton Hall (14-4, 6-0 Big East) upset then no. 5 Butler and rallied past St. Johns on the road, expanding his winning streak to eight games and winning 1.5 games ahead of second-placed Villanova. Four of these victories are not at home. Rutgers (14: 4, 5: 2, Big Ten) improved to a perfect 12: 0 at home and impressively defeated Indiana and Minnesota to stay in second place in the Big Ten against Illinois.
This year there were high expectations for Seton Hall, which is based on four consecutive NCAA tournament bids and returned before the season. All-American Myles Powell. The pirates were selected by the league coaches to win the Great East. Rutgers has not had a successful season in the past 14 years and finished 12th in the Big Ten under coach Steve Pikiell.
"I am proud of the progress we have made as a program and I am very happy for the guys on our list," said Pikiell in a statement released by the school. “The ranking is proof of the hard work and the sacrifices that our boys made this year. We enjoy this trip and look forward to mastering the many challenges that need to be addressed at the best conference in the country. Go RU! "
Rutgers abused Seton Hall, 68-48, on December 14 at the RAC. But Powell suffered a concussion at the start of the game, and striker Sandro Mamukelashvili (wrist fracture) failed. The pirates haven't lost since. Maybe the two teams will meet again at the NCAA tournament.