Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEW YORK — While Deshawn Freeman was sitting on the set of the Big Ten Network following Rutgers’ come-from-behind 76-69 win over Indiana at Madison Square Garden, a Rutgers fan yelled at him.
“Hey, Deshawn,” Dan Baumlin shouted, “they said Rutgers didn’t belong in the Big Ten.”
The fan and his friends then began serenading the player with chants of “De-shawn Free-man, De-shawn Free-man,” before turning their attention to the coach with chants of “Steve Pik-iell.”
Yes, Freeman, Corey Sanders (game-high 28 points) and their Rutgers teammates are showing they do indeed belong in the Big Ten Conference. After finishing last in the league with a 3-15 regular-season mark, the No. 14-seeded Scarlet Knights have now beaten No. 11 Minnesota and No. 6 Indiana on back-to-back days and will face No. 3 Purdue in Friday night’s quarterfinals (8:55 ET). Rutgers remains a 300/1 longshot to win the Big Ten Tournament, per Bovada.