F Yeah F yeah How many years have we have been waiting for this. I am not going to call us a lock because I do not sit on the selection committee and yes the road issue is not solved but percentage wise and is the only wart on a strong resume. We are in the 80/20 range that we are dancing. We can worry about that in the coming days as the metrics and results come in and RU's resume gets compared to the flimsy resumes from the AACm SEC, A10, Pac 12 and Big 12. Let us enjoy this moment tonight. It is historic. I feel historical tonight My first experience at the RAC came before my first experience with Rutgers. In the late 70s my dad used to take our family to see the New Jersey Nets who played their home games at the RAC for a few seasons. Often times he scored sideline tix from work and does anyone else remember the Superfan with the wig that used to roam the sidelines and shout and stomp his feet. My first experience with Rutgers came while watching them beat SW Louisiana on ESPN in the NCAA championship. I knew the names Hinson and Battle in the 80s. Then in high school, I knew the program was like the worst in college hoops. In 1988 I enrolled at RU but did not attend a RU game until a Temple game later in the season after a bit of buzz had developed about the program. RU won that game and then of course went on a run in the A10 tourney. My screen name came from the moment at the end of the game vs Temple when the cheerleaders and fans started chanting BACK TO THE RAC, BACK TO THE RAC signaling that RU would be hosting the A10 championship game vs Penn State. Watched that one on tv, was at the RAC for that incredible game at Penn State. The loudest the RAC ever was at any one time or for a sustained period. It was a frigging zoo. That atmosphere will never be duplicated for two reasons...the RAC lost 1K seats and that there were maybe 2K PSU fans...a sea of blue in an ocean of red. RU was seeded 13th and was not up to the task in facing 4th seed Iowa but that was okay. Wenzel took the team from 7-22 to the NCAA tourney.. Looked like the future was golden Next year was somewhat of a disappointment, team made NITs but underacheived somewhat. It was 1991 our last tourney year where RU really shined. Started strong with the win over Missouri but then sputtered to start A10 play. I believe somewhere was our last win over Maryland 1991 in an Arizona tourney. RU suddenly turned it on midway through the year, won the A10 championship by routing Penn St on the last day of the season. Got stung by St Joes in the A10 tourney quarters and was a bubble sweating it out but turned out not so...as we were seeded in the 8/9 game vs Arizona State with the winner to play top seed Arkansas. Man RU had that game and blew it But no one, no one could have ever dreamed that 1991 would be the last year Rutgers would make the NCAA tourney.....29 freaking years...are you kidding me. There was flirtation with Bannon in 1999 and another with Waters in 2002 and 2004 and at that time we thought 10-15 years was along time...we tripled and doubled those numbers. Man how is this possible. Tonight is for all the long time season ticket holders. All of us who stuck with this program through the bad times in the A10, to the early years in the Big East where we got no respect, through a lot of false hopes and false idols. Players who were supposed to be the ones. Coaches who promised success. Yet year after year after year, RU fell short. Our highlights reduced to yearly upsets at the RAC of Syracuse. What kind of program was that? Sleepy crowds of 3-4K and years of irrelevancy in any conference. This is for those fans who still stuck around through the miserable Fred Hill error, a coach who probably is responsible for decimating a third of the fanbase and removing any lasting hope we had as fans. This is for the fans who stuck with Rutgers after the Mike Rice debacle. A well liked guy with serious flaws. Would not blame anyone for bolting and saying never again. Things would get lower with the Eddie Jordan era. Man maybe we really should shut the program down. And finally Mr Hobbs came in, listened to the fans, assessed the situation got rid of Eddie who will always be a loyal Scarlet Knight but not a college coach. Hobbs delivered us Steve Pikielll. A guy many of us never heard of. Remember Danny Hurley was the first target but that did not work out. Pikiell was next man up and while most did not know alot about him, he came from a great pedigree and almost got universal support right away. Not flashy at all, Pike somehow little by little in this first year starting building things, you could see the signs. Year 2 and the run in the B10 tourney at MSG was giving us real flashes. Year 3 we were winning 7 league games and beating ranked schools. RU was not quite there yet and still seemed young and a little less talented. But damn year 4, what a frigging year. This team looked dead after the St Bonnies/Pitt games. Did we need more horses? They try hard but geez they are not winning. Not sure what Pikiell did but this team came home to play Wisconsin at the RAC and it was a brand new team. Down went Wisconsin. Down went Seton Hall. Followed into the next year...Penn State, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Purdue, Northwestern, Illinois....before you knew it RU was 17-0 at the RAC. Yeah we lost to Michigan..so what. Tonight backs against the wall, this program delivered #18 and it was the best ever. This game was the best game played by a Rutgers team at least in my history at Rutgers. I know some of the older folks go back pre 1988 so you guys might have a different perspective. Other wins in the 90s and 2000s were big but what exactly did they represent. Tonight was no accident. Rutgers absolutely clobbered Maryland in all kinds of ways. The #9 team in the country. This win was not because RU got some hot shooting or luck. This win was because RU played savage defense and were the aggressor on offense making Maryland pay time and time again. Maryland was punched repeatedly...on defense and on offense. RU kept responding and responding and answering. Rutgers beat a top 10 team because they played the part of a top 10 team. The players and coaches did a phenomenal job of sticking to the gameplan and just sticking it to Maryland every chance they got. There were other games this year that I said put the notion of Same Old Rutgers to rest but this game was seemingly the culmination of 29 years of heartbreak, false hopes, false starts. Tonight Rutgers cemented the Steve Pikiell era and likely made history This win was for us. The long suffering RU fans. You know who you are. Many of you I see in person at the RAC from time to time to chat. We have grown old together, kindred spirits holding onto the NCAA dream. Others I do not know personally but I know your faces, again seeing them for 30 years, its easy to remember. Some of you are just fans from far away and that is okay too, you all have been involved in this long journey. The newer fans give us a youthful optimistic energy that work to shake the older folks from their learned negativity. That sight on the court was our smaller version of Pandemonium in Piscataway. The joy, the happiness, the relief, man that was amazing to see on our fanbase. This was a long time coming boys. There is still potential work to do. Again nothing is locked up but this team is rocking everyone's worlds right now. Rutgers has arrived in a big way. We are not a fluke. We are legit. We can do serious damage in the Big 10 tourney. 10 freaking Big 10 wins, our first win ever over Maryland..another double digit win at home over a ranked team. And this post is already getting long so maybe another one coming tomorrow that will go through the game and the key plays and give some individual players their props although I am sure there will be a plethora of threads covering them tomorrow.