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Rutgers men’s basketball earns highest ever preseason ranking in Big Ten media poll

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The Scarlet Knights continue to receive more respect heading into the 2020-2021 season.

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

In an unofficial media preseason poll conducted together by The Columbus Dispatch and The Athletic, the Rutgers men’s basketball team has been shown greater respect than ever before. The Scarlet Knights were picked last every year up until last season when they were picked to finish 12th. After a program best 11-9 conference record since joining the league, they ended up finishing in a four-way tie for fifth place, earning the 8 seed due to tiebreakers in the eventually cancelled Big Ten Tournament.

In this season’s poll, released on Tuesday morning, Rutgers was picked to finish 5th in the conference out of 14 teams. The poll featured voting from 28 beat writers, two for each team in the league. Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press and James Kratch of NJ Advance Media were included from the Rutgers beat. Per Carino’s tweet, RU was voted as high as third place on one ballot and as low as eighth on four ballots.

The Scarlet Knights received 249 points, which positioned them between the two teams from Michigan. Certainly not a usual place to see them listed, but something Rutgers fans would have no problem getting used to long term.

Here is the complete poll:

1. Illinois 376 (16)

2. Iowa 350 (6)

3. Wisconsin 347 (6)

4. Michigan State 323

5. Rutgers 249

6. Michigan 241

7. Ohio State 229

8. Indiana 212

9. Purdue 179

10. Maryland 141

11. Minnesota 121

12. Penn State 72

13. Nebraska 54

14. Northwestern 47

Geo Baker, who was named to the Bob Cousy Award Watch List as one of the twenty top point guards in the nation, earned 6 votes for First Team All-Big Ten, falling short of earning that unofficial preseason honor.

Steve Pikiell’s team is embracing great expectations for this season after earning a preseason national ranking for the first time in 42 years. The season is set to tip-off on November 25 and we have plenty of preseason coverage ahead in the coming days. The Big Ten has yet to announce the conference schedule.