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College Basketball Is Glorious and Rutgers Can Play A Role Again

And the game last night between Rutgers and Iowa proves it

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve watched “the shot” so many times now that it’s playing as some sort of basketball version of the Zapruder film. Despite the sports pain, I can’t help it. There are so many details to breakdown. How was that ball not tipped into the Iowa bench? Would the result have been different if the inbounder was covered? That basketball must have broken the laws of physics. Over and over I feel, the surge of excitement at a possible upset seeping out of the fans in less than a second.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had this feeling.

However he did it, Joe Wieskamp was able to bank a three in from the corner. The angle of that is ridiculous. It doesn’t seem like it should have happened. As if it’s some sort of grassy knoll shot that shouldn’t exist. It should not have happened.

And yet, it did.

Shots like that, no matter how much they hurt in your stomach for hours after the game is over, are special. They are what make college basketball special.

Had the Geo Baker rattling three pointer been the game deciding shot, it would have gone down as the best game I’ve seen at the RAC, topping the double OT win against Florida I’ve spoken so highly of. But because of Iowa’s miracle bank, it goes down as one of the most remarkable—up there with a 1 point loss to number one UConn back in 2004.

Nothing can compare to the emotional swings in college basketball. At one point, you’re celebrating and screaming your head off, the next... dead silence.

Baseball doesn’t have that kind of suddenness. It’s glory lies in how the game builds over nine innings. Runners on, just trying to escape on defense. Baseball builds and builds like a slow burning psychological thriller.

Football replies on anticipation and inevitability. The good teams nearly always beat the bad teams. When a good team gets the ball down 3 with two minutes left, you know they’re going to get down the field. If you’re rooting for the underdog, you can only hope they make a mistake. It’s Risk or Stretego, making sure the pieces are in the right place at the right moment to strike.

Basketball comes at you out of nowhere. Played a breakneck speed, the best games are like an action movie. Players diving on the floor, fighting for loose balls. A ten oh run can come out of nowhere. Plot twists and remarkable moment.s

That’s what I’m left with after last night. Rutgers is clearly moving in the right direction and they can go toe to toe with nearly everyone. They are building and adding pieces that fit what Steve Pikiell wants Rutgers to look like on the basketball court. They are tough and physical. They defend the heck out of you, wear you down, and when they are really good you are one and done on the boards.

They give you moments that surge that adrenaline through your bloodstream. There are moments why we watch sports, and it’s not just about the highlight or the athleticism. It’s about the plots twists, the storylines and the wow moments.

Right now, Rutgers is about the build and college basketball is about the thrill.

Over the next twenty years, we will likely never see another shot like the one Wieskamp hit last night. At the same time, Luther Muhammad’s open three at the end of the Ohio State game might swish through for a time 5 times out of ten.

The moments are starting to appear at the RAC. For too long the building was a black hole, with no excitement. No reason to love the sport. Rutgers lost a game where Purdue had more rebounds than Rutgers had points.

No longer.

Rutgers is ready to play a part in my favorite sport again. There are going to be more out-of-nowhere moments that we watch on YouTube over and over again.

Hopefully they fall in our favor more often than not.