A sold-out Prudential Center will be rocking for the Garden State Hardwood Classic between Seton Hall Basketball and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. The Pirates have taken the past two matchups between these teams, winning last year’s game in a 45-43 slugfest that was pure, ugly, New Jersey basketball. This is your classic small private school versus big-time public school rivalry, so these teams do not like each other very much.
These teams look a bit different now, with Rutgers losing Ron Harper Jr, and Paul Mulcahy, and the Pirates losing Tyrese Samuel, Jamir Harris, KC Ndefo, and many others who played in this game last season. But the great thing about this game is that new players have iconic moments each and every time these two teams square off.
The Scarlet Knights have lost their past couple of games, losing to Illinois, followed by an embarrassing loss to Wake Forest 76-57. Meanwhile, the Pirates were just routed by Baylor in Waco 78-60. Both teams are in desperate situations where they need a strong non-conference win desperately before conference play, so these two teams have everything to lose here.
Rivalries are amazing when the games are always great regardless of where these teams’s records are, or how dominant one team has been over the past few years. Anything can happen in a New Jersey classic like this one, expect physicality, tough defense, hard fouls, and everything else you would expect in a beautifully ugly basketball game. But for the Pirates, they need a win badly here, so what needs to happen for them to come out with the three-peat in this classic?