Rutgers has only played in the NCAA Tournament six times in history -- and zero times since 1991. So there is no traditional college basketball power based in Piscataway, New Jersey. Ask anybody who understands the sport, and they'll tell you being the men's basketball coach at Rutgers is one of the toughest jobs in any Power Five conference. And that's why what Steve Pikiell is doing right now is so impressive.
Rutgers beat a nationally-ranked team Tuesday night.
It was Penn State.
The score was 72-61.
So now the Scarlett Knights are 12-3 overall and 3-1 in the Big Ten thanks to a six-game winning streak featuring victories over Seton Hall, Wisconsin and the Nittany Lions. That's three top-30 KenPom wins, by the way. And a fresh look at the Big Ten standings shows Rutgers is tied for second in the league after being picked 12th in the preseason poll. Meanwhile, Indiana is tied for 10th. And Ohio State is tied for 12th. So these are strange times in the Big Ten, undeniably.
"We have 16 games left," Pikiell told reporters after Tuesday's win. "I do appreciate the excitement and enthusiasm people have. [But] it doesn't help us win games. We gotta play well. We gotta beat really good teams with great coaches. We gotta go on the road and win. We gotta do a lot of things before we start talking about anything else."
Rutgers -- yes, Rutgers! -- is No. 21 in Wednesday morning's updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings. The Scarlet Knights are one of six Big Ten schools in the Top 25 And 1. The others are Michigan State, Maryland, Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State.
|Killian Tillie finished with 20 points, four rebounds and four assists in Saturday's 75-70 win over Pepperdine. The Zags' eight-game winning streak includes victories over Arizona and Washington.||--||31-1|
|Udoka Azubukie finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds in Saturday's 60-53 win over West Virginia. The Jayhawks have seven top-90 KenPom wins and zero sub-30 KenPom losses.||--||21-9|
|Vernon Carey finished with 24 points and nine rebounds in Saturday's 95-62 victory at Miami. The Blue Devils will take a seven-game winning streak into Wednesday's game at Georgia Tech.||--||13-11|
|J'Von McCormick scored a career-high 28 points in Saturday's 80-68 victory at Mississippi State. The Tigers' perfect record features seven wins over top-100 KenPom teams.||--||13-14|
|Payton Pritchard finished with 19 points, five assists and four rebounds in Saturday's 69-64 victory at Utah. The Ducks' resume features wins over Michigan, Memphis, Seton Hall and Houston.||--||21-7|
San Diego St
|Malachi Flynn finished with 22 points, five rebounds and four assists in Saturday's 77-68 victory at Utah State. The Aztecs are 15-0 for the first time since the 2010-11 season.||--||23-5|
|Davion Mitchell finished with 14 points and four rebounds in Tuesday's 57-52 win at Texas Tech. The Bears will take an 11-game winning streak into Saturday's game at Kansas.||--||28-2|
|Sean McDermott finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds in Saturday's 71-57 victory over Creighton. Butler's lone loss is a one-point loss at Baylor.||--||10-15|
|Trent Forrest finished with 20 points and five assists in Saturday's 78-65 victory at Louisville. The Seminoles have won six straight games since losing at Indiana.||--||18-7|
|Cassius Winston finished with a career-high 32 points and nine assists in Sunday's 87-69 victory over Michigan. The Spartans will take a seven-game winning streak into Thursday's game with Minnesota.||--||15-13|
|Jordan Nwora finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds in Tuesday's 74-58 victory over Miami. The Cardinals will take a 3-1 ACC record into Saturday's game at Notre Dame.||--||13-7|
|Collin Gillespie finished with 24 points and seven rebounds in Tuesday's 64-59 victory at Creighton. Villanova is 7-1 in its past eight games with the lone loss in that stretch coming at Marquette.||--||18-7|
|Derek Culver finished with nine points and 12 rebounds in Monday's 55-41 victory at Oklahoma State. The Mountaineers' resume features wins over Ohio State and Wichita State.||--||19-10|
|Anthony Cowan finished with 20 points and six rebounds in Tuesday's 67-55 victory over Ohio State. Maryland will take a three-game winning streak into Friday's game at Iowa.||2||17-14|
|Ashton Hagans finished with 13 points, five assists and four steals in Tuesday's 78-69 victory at Georgia. The Wildcats will take a three-game winning streak into Saturday's game with Alabama.||--||9-16|
|The Buckeyes missed 22 of the 27 3-pointers they attempted in Tuesday's 67-55 loss at Maryland. Ohio State is 2-4 in its past six games with multiple losses to unranked opponents.||2||21-10|
|Obi Toppin was limited because of foul trouble but still finished with 15 points and five rebounds in Sunday's 80-67 win at Saint Joseph's. The Flyers have the nation's highest effective field goal percentage.||--||14-10|
|The Wolverines allowed Michigan State to shoot 52.8% from the field in Sunday's 87-69 loss inside the Breslin Center. Michigan is just 3-4 since starting the season 7-0.||1||23-5|
|Precious Achiuwa's 20 points and 15 rebounds couldn't prevent Memphis from losing 65-62 to Georgia on Saturday. The Tigers were missing their second-leading scorer, D.J. Jeffries, because of what was described as flu-like symptoms.||1||20-8|
|Erik Stevenson finished with 29 points and six rebounds in Saturday's 74-54 victory over Ole Miss. The Shockers will take a seven-game winning streak into Thursday's game with Memphis.||5||16-6|
|Ron Harper Jr. finished with 22 points and five rebounds in Tuesday's 72-61 victory over Penn State. Rutgers will take a six-game winning streak in Saturday's game at Illinois.||NR||16-12|
|The Nittany Lions finished with 14 turnovers and just nine assists in Tuesday's 72-61 loss at Rutgers. The loss snapped Penn State's five-game winning streak.||4||11-14|
|The Red Raiders missed 16 of the 23 3-pointers they attempted in Tuesday's 57-52 loss to Baylor. It was just the second loss of the season for Texas Tech in games in which Jahmi'us Ramsey has played.||--||18-11|
|Creighton squandered a double-digit lead Tuesday and lost 64-59 to Villanova. All four of the Bluejays' losses are to schools also ranked in the Top 25 And 1.||--||22-9|
|Isaiah Joe made five 3-pointers and finished with 17 points in Saturday's 69-59 victory over Texas A&M. The Razorbacks will take a four-game winning streak into Wednesday's game at LSU.||1||25-7|
|Zeke Nnaji finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds in Saturday's 75-47 victory over Arizona State. Two of Arizona's three losses are to Gonzaga and Baylor.||NR||17-9|