The buzz started building in the Big East Twittersphere on Monday morning. Seton Hall and Rutgers.
"The best rivalry in college basketball is less than 48 hours away from tip: Rutgers/Seton Hall."
"OH MY GOD! SETON HALL-RUTGERS IS TOMORROW! BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES! HIDE THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN! IT'S MOTHERF**KIN' HALL-KNIGHTS!"
"If you feel the earth tremble and see the moon break into a thousand pieces tonight, you'll know that Seton Hall and Rutgers have tipped off."
"Animals are scurrying into the forests, the ocean tides are turning blood red...we are t-minus 90 minutes to Seton Hall-Rutgers."
Why all the hype? Because Pat Forde declared this one of the fiercest rivalries in college basketball last summer. Ummm… OK? Let's just see how nasty this thing gets. To the retro diary! (Times are from the ESPN360 replay. And in honor of Mr. Forde, we will number the people, places, and schools in this diary for absolutely no reason.)
0:00:15 - (1) Mike Gleason describes (2) Rutgers as "surging" after having won three of their last four to come all the way up to 4-10 in league play. Meanwhile (3) Seton Hall is considered on the bubble at 15-10, even though (4) USF is 16-10 and we all admit we're toast. Hey, got to make this look good for the viewing audience.
0:01:39 - (5) Fred Hill is walking the sidelines with a freakish scowl, rubbing his hands together. Oh, he's ready.
0:03:45 - Lots of establishing shots of students, the scoreboard, a train, the rafters… gee, are they trying to hide something here?
0:04:00 - Oh.
0:04:15 - Man, for one of the nation's biggest rivalries I expected more than 6,000 people in the stands. Where are all the Rutgers fans? Where are the profane chants? Where are the fans pouring drinks on each other from luxury boxes? This is no (6) Georgetown - (7) Syracuse, let me tell you.
0:05:10 - Obligatory shot of the parking lot and the WHAT EXIT HARF HARF graphic that is mandatory for anything in or from (8) New Jersey. (9) Doug Gottlieb calls New Jersey "a beautiful place" and then says this is "a big rivalry." He might be fibbing a little.
0:08:00 - So far I would describe Gleason's play-by-play style as "ignore the actual game and work in as many bullet points from my pregame prep as possible." Then he tries to blame the butterflies caused by this epic rivalry for some sloppy play.
0:11:35 - Every time I hear Hazell, I think of (10) Keeley Hazell instead of (11) Jeremy. You know you do, too. (Side note - it took a surprising amount of effort to find pictures of her that might be safe for work.)
0:16:30 - "These are the kinds of games you love to play in!" I could not agree more. Sloppy games against mediocre competition are way better than going up against (12) Villanova or Syracuse or Georgetown.
0:18:50 - Just a weird story about (13) Herb Pope, who says he wants to play basketball on the anniversary of the day he was shot, March 31. I assume he means that he wants to play deep into the Tournament, but maybe he's just talking about a game of HORSE or something. In which case, there's nothing stopping him.
0:19:25 - (14) Dane Miller goes coast to coast and then throws the ball into the basket stanchion. Someone check the point spread - we're in Jersey, after all.
0:20:05 - Deep insight from Gottlieb, who says Seton Hall scores 15 points a game more at home than on the road. This means nothing because they could still lose those games, plus the stat is skewed by the one game against (15) VMI where they put up 134. When he says they love playing at home "in front of these sellouts" the camera immediately zooms in so you can't see the hundreds of empty seats in the lower sections of the arena.
0:22:30 - Seton Hall is blowing this thing open early. Rutgers can't wait for the under-12 timeout and burns one trailing 28-10. Gottlieb pulls (16) Mike Rosario's pants down and paddles him for taking a contested 3 with 32 on the shot clock, then dogging it back up the court on defense. Meanwhile two Rutgers defenders in the paint let (17) Robert Mitchell in behind them for a layup, and nothing.
0:28:27 - In the (18) Big East coaching spotlight, it says (19) Bobby Gonzalez is 23-5 at Seton Hall against (20) New York City and New Jersey teams. I sure as hell hope so - that includes half the (21) Ivy League, and powerhouses like (22) Wagner, (23) Fairleigh Dickinson, and (24) NJIT. It's like saying USF football is 10-2 against (25) Florida schools when they're 1-2 against (26) Florida, (27) Miami, and (28) FSU, and 9-0 against everyone else.
0:30:45 - Two straight minutes of Seton Hall bubble talk. Um, guys, there's a game here.
0:37:35 - Now they're talking about (29) Louisville's Tournament chances, and they aren't even playing in this game. Seton Hall and Rutgers fans should be pissed. This is one of the nation's most bitter rivalries and it's not getting the respect it deserves.
0:39:00 - Still not calling the game. It's like a sports talk radio show. "I might be biased because I've done Big East games all year," says Gleason. Sure, if by "done" you mean "talked about everything except the freaking game."
0:40:15 - Traveling music is now being suggested for Gottlieb's trip back to (30) Bristol. This has turned into (31) John Caponera's impersonation of (32) Harry Caray.
0:41:00 - This will shock you but the Big East refs hosed a call, allowing an obvious goaltend by (33) Hamady Ndiaye to stand. Gottlieb redeems himself by firing off a (34) Caddyshack joke.
0:49:20 - Out of nowhere, Gleason brings up Gottlieb's trip to the Elite Eight when he was with (35) Oklahoma State and misremembers most of the facts. This goes on for 90 seconds before Gottlieb snaps back into it. How many times do you think the director of this game has screamed in their headsets to talk about the game? 10? 15? And we're not even to halftime yet.
0:51:00 - At halftime, it's Seton Hall 44, Rutgers 29. The Scarlet Knights have 12 turnovers, the Pirates have just one. I have now given you more information about the game than these two chucklebuckets did in the entire first half.
1:07:40 - Gleason got a paper cut at halftime and started bleeding. It is immediately compared to Hazell's hand injury in the (36) West Virginia game. Yep, they're exactly the same.
1:09:00 - Gottlieb: "You need a Band-Aid?" Gleason: "No, I'll just rub it on your new suit."
1:12:20 - Another unbelievable story, this time about Ndiaye. One semester he had bad grades, so his dad decided he wasn't allowed to talk to his family or eat with them. For FIVE MONTHS. Gleason calls this "discipline." Somewhere (37) Mike Leach is nodding his head in approval.
1:13:24 - Herb Pope rejects a weak floater by Dane Miller into the third row. OH SNAP! IT'S ON! YOU DO NOT WANT THIS!
1:13:45 - Mike Rosario misses a baseline jumper. Miller comes flying in from outside the three-point line for an incredible follow dunk and looks back at Pope on his way back up the court. HERE WE GO BITCHES! FISTS WILL BE FLYING! LET'S PLAY THE FEUD!
1:14:00 - Nothing happens. Very disappointing. The benches should have emptied and Fred Hill should have been in a sissy slap fight with Bobby Gonzalez at the scorer's table. Some rivalry this is.
1:16:40 - Extremely uncomfortable grunt from Gottlieb as they show another replay of the Miller dunk.
1:21:35 - Rutgers has crept within 8. "We have ourselves a GAME," Gottlieb says, as if he were talking to a four-year-old.
1:26:25 - Timeout on the floor. Gonzalez fires off a couple F-bombs while reaching for his clipboard. Fun for the whole family.
1:31:35 - On ESPNU, Syracuse is beating (38) Providence 77-66, and Georgetown is up 53-40 on Louisville as the Cards cling to their Tournament hopes on ESPN2. You could change the channel. But then you'd have to stop watching this epic blood feud.
1:33:15 - (39) James Beatty finds a gap in the defense wider than the one between (40) Greg Schiano's front teeth and gets an easy layup. Pirates still up by 10.
1:34:55 - Scarlet Knights are back within eight as the crowd raises a slight murmur. WE MUST DEFEND OUR 15 POINTS BETTER PER GAME ON OUR HOME COURT!
1:39:10 - Gottlieb describing the (41) Duke "double" play - "You get behind the shooter and you make him curl." Just like I did with your mother last night, (42) Trebek!
1:40:05 - 6:45 to go and Seton Hall is up by 13. Gleason asks who needs to step up on offense for Rutgers. Um… everyone?
1:42:40 - 6'6" Dane Miller airballs a three while 6'2" James Beatty stands under the basket waiting for a rebound. Then Fred Hill calls a timeout, leaving him with only one timeout and nearly five minutes to play. I smell Naismith!
1:46:55 - Rosario lays it in and gets fouled. Rutgers within six! This is where legends are made! They'll be talking about this performance for decades!
1:49:40 - Gleason advises drivers on B-roll footage of the (43) George Washington Bridge to hurry over to the (44) Prudential Center to see the end of this game. Sure, they'll make it to the arena in plenty of time. I really can't stress what a horrendous job he's done calling (or not calling) this game. This must be what it was like hearing (45) the Daves call an (46) SEC football game on Raycom.
1:52:45 - After a Rutgers basket, Fred Hill takes his last timeout with a minute and a half to go. What, your kids didn't know to start pressing the inbounds pass? You had to burn your last timeout to tell them this? Are they new to basketball? Are you new to basketball? Hard to believe he's on the hot seat.
1:56:21 - Gottlieb admits there is a curtain covering the upper deck of the Prudential Center, then says that filling the lower bowl is a sellout. Tonight's announced crowd: 9,503. I can't take much more of this.
1:57:25 - One more genius play by the Scarlet Knights. Instead of putting up 3's with 40 seconds left, they dump it in the post to Ndiaye, who bricks a bad left-handed hook shot. Thanks for playing.
1:59:58 - Dane Miller is heading for a dunk right at the buzzer and Herb Pope tackles him before he can score. OH HELL NAW! DON'T BRING THAT IN MY HOUSE, SON!
2:02:20 - It's finally over. Seton Hall wins it 76-70.
A friendly reminder, these two arch rivals meet up again next Thursday in (47) Piscataway. And a P.S. to (48) Pat Forde - just because two teams are near one another and they have a little bit of a fracas doesn't make them huge rivals. Just ask Miami and (49) Florida International. Or maybe just ask (50) Lamar Thomas.