PISCATAWAY, NJ - JANUARY 09: Ron Harper Jr. #24 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights grabs a rebound with help from teammate Geo Baker #0 against Kyle Young #25 of the Ohio State Buckeyes during the first half a game at Rutgers Athletic Center on January 9, 2019 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

The downtrodden Rutgers Scarlet Knights’ men’s basketball program has reached a new high after back-to-back wins over Indiana and Minnesota.

While the New York men’s basketball pro teams have left a lot to be desired, amateur squads across the river are putting on a show on the hardwood.

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights have joined the Seton Hall Pirates in the Associated Press’ top-25 poll. Rutgers (14-4, 5-2 Big Ten) makes their first appearance in the in-season rankings since December 1978, coming in at 24th. It’s their first showing overall since March 1979, when they ended that season ranked 18th in the final poll.

Rutgers has enjoyed a resurgent season under fourth-year head coach Steve Pikiell. The men’s program has not reached a postseason tournament since the 2006 NIT and their last NCAA Tournament showing came in 1991.

But the team has already reached their win total from all of last season and are two conference wins shorts of matching their Big Ten record, also set in 2018-19. Rutgers has enjoyed the antics of a few exciting players. Sophomore Ron Harper Jr. (son of the five-time NBA champion) and junior Geo Baker respectively pace the Scarlet Knights with scoring averages of 11.8 and 10.7. Another sophomore, center Myles Johnson, leads the Big Ten in field goal percentage (.679) and is also seventh in rebounds per game (8.2).

Notable wins for Rutgers this season include two tilts against ranked competition. They crushed the aforementioned Pirates (then ranked 22nd) by a 68-48 final on Dec. 14 before beating No. 20 Penn State 72-71 on Jan. 7. Rutgers jumped into the polls by winning both of their games in Piscataway this week. They topped Indiana 59-50 on Wednesday before ending the weekend with a 64-56 triumph over Minnesota at The Rutgers Athletic Center.

The Scarlet Knights will get an instant opportunity to prove their ranked mettle this week as they hit the road on Wednesday to battle No. 19 Iowa (9 p.m. ET, BTN).

Positive Piscataway basketball happenings are not limited to the men’s program. Rutgers’ women’s basketball team sits at 15-2 (5-1 Big Ten) after they extended a winning streak to four via a 62-57 win over Penn State on Wednesday. The team next takes on Michigan State at The RAC on Monday night (6 p.m. ET, BTN).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490

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