Garden State rivals announce new name, trophy for annual game

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Rutgers and Seton Hall have played each other a total of 65 times, with the first meeting coming in 1916, and the Pirates currently hold a 36-29 edge in the series. One of the priorities for both programs in the aftermath of conference realignment, which ultimately led to Rutgers landing in the Big Ten and Seton Hall remaining part of the Big East, was to ensure that the series would continue.

Last season’s meeting (a 77-71 Seton Hall victory) was the first of an eight-year home and home agreement, and in advance of the 2014 addition the schools announced Wednesday that the game will now be called the “Garden State Hardwood Classic.”

“We knew that it would be important to the New Jersey college basketball community to keep this rivalry going even though the programs are no longer in the same conference,” Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard said in the release. “We believe the added branding and renewed focus will bring even more excitement to this annual event.”

In addition to the nickname, the game will also have a trophy that was constructed primarily from Asbury Park boardwalk planks. According to the release those planks were obtained during the re-decking of the boardwalk in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, which occurred in 2012.

Of the 65 meetings in the series the Scarlet Knights and Pirates shared a conference in 30 of them, with their first meeting as Big East members coming on January 28, 1996 (and 81-78 Seton Hall victory). Their last meeting as conference foes was played March 8, 2013, with Rutgers winning 56-51 at the Prudential Center. And despite dropping last year’s game the Scarlet Knights have won three of the last four meetings.