The NCAA Tournament was supposed to begin today, which is Thursday, March 19, 2020. Instead, it’s only taking place in an alternate reality. As I mentioned here, our site is going to take this new reality day by day in regard to developing content worthy of your time. Although I pondered the idea of writing a fictional game preview, I decided against it as I thought it would provide more torture than relief. My mind shifted on what I could write about to provide hopefully even just a few minutes of entertainment on this rainy Thursday.
Plenty of people are binge watching television at the moment, so I started thinking of which fictional TV character’s arc reminded me most of this past Rutgers men’s basketball season. For multiple reasons, one character in particular who stood out for me was Tony Soprano.
Of course, Tony was from New Jersey and the actor who played him so well, James Gandolfini (RIP), was also a Rutgers graduate and loyal son. However, there are more compelling similarities than just what is there at face value.
Soprano was a new age leader for an long time crime family, different from those that came before him. He united and inspired many within his own group. There were many key victories against rivals during his regime, as well as several missed opportunities. In the end, he cared about his family before things suddenly cut to black.....
It’s not the perfect analogy and I’m not condoning organized crime or some of the terrible things Tony did during his fictional life on the show. As I like to do, I’m focusing on the positive and there is some symmetry with the men’s basketball program.
Rutgers produced the first winning season in 14 years and first 20 win season in decades. This team inspired the fan base in a way that hasn’t happened in decades. They delivered four wins over ranked opponents, all by double figures. There were several close and hard fought road defeats in which Rutgers fell just short. And just as they were all but assured the program’s first NCAA Tournament bid in 29 years, the season was abruptly ended due to the global pandemic with COVID-19. Perhaps most memorable was the way this team connected to and was loved by Rutgers fans.
And by the way, Soprano used an alias by the name of Ronald F. “Big Ron” Spears, which sort of makes sense as Ron Harper Jr. led the team in scoring. Ok, I’ll stop now.
We don’t know for sure what happened to Tony Soprano once the series ended with the screen going black. There has been plenty of speculation over the years of what might have happened. There will be for an eternity for the Rutgers fan base regarding the 2019-2020 basketball team as well.
I’ve always thought that writing the end of great TV shows is a difficult task that more times than not disappoints its biggest fans. There is too many possible ways to tie up loose ends to make everyone who loves the show truly happy. For the Rutgers basketball team, there were so many postseason possibilities that never had a chance to unfold. In the end, fans of the Sopranos and this season’s Rutgers basketball team ultimately were left with the same feeling. None of us wanted it to be over.