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Garden State Hardwood Classic returns for upcoming season

After a year filled with unprecedented circumstances that brought about a crazy season with no matchup between the top college basketball programs in New Jersey, the state renowned Hardwood Classic is making its
anticipated return for the 2021-22 season on Dec. 12, 2021 at the Prudential Center.

With the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard and Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell were unable to schedule a matchup between the New Jersey schools, marking the pause of a yearly tradition for New Jersey basketball fans.

In 1996, the year Rutgers joined the BIG EAST, the Pirates and Scarlet Knights began their annual matchup. Ever since, Seton Hall has held a 25-17 advantage in the series and a 40-31 advantage historically, with the Pirates winning 5 of the last 7 games. Their last matchup came on Dec. 14, 2019, when Rutgers upset the No. 22 Pirates 68-48 in an electric Rutgers Athletic Center environment.

PISCATAWAY, NJ - DECEMBER 15: during the Garden State Hardwood Classic at the Rutgers Athletic Center on December 15, 2017 in Piscataway, New Jersey. (Photo by Porter Binks)

In 2014, the rivalry introduced a brand new hardwood trophy that is awarded to the winner of every game. Since it’s introduction, the Hardwood Classic trophy, which is constructed of remnants of a Asbury Park boardwalk that was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy, has found its home in South Orange in 4 of the 6 matchups.

With the Scarlet Knights coming off a March Madness run and the Pirates having a fresh look for the coming season, Garden State basketball fans should be in for a treat this winter.

Brendan Balsamo can be reached at


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