Rugged run for Rutgers

SUNDAY, DEC. 28, 2008

The week after Christmas is usually about time off from school or work, huge sales and returning those gifts you lied about when you opened them.

Not for Rutgers.

How about a week facing the three teams at the top of the Top 25?

The Scarlet Knights (9-3) play at No. 1 North Carolina today. They return home for a Wednesday meeting with No. 3 Pittsburgh and then head north to play at No. 2 Connecticut on Saturday.

“Certainly this is a very, very unique situation,” Rutgers coach Fred Hill said. “We’re aware of what’s coming up.”

There have been teams that have faced two of the top three teams in the poll in the same week, but none has faced all three in a seven-day period.

In the 1989 Preseason NIT, Kansas beat No. 2 LSU, No. 1 UNLV and No. 25 St. John’s in a week to win the title.

In December 1995, Temple in a nine-day period beat No. 2 Villanova, lost to No. 12 Cincinnati and beat No. 1 Kansas in overtime. To cap off what has to be one the toughest runs, Temple lost to No. 3 Memphis six days later.

In the 1997 NCAA tournament, Arizona beat No. 1 Kansas, unranked Providence, No. 4 North Carolina and No. 5 Kentucky during a two-week period to win the title.

Honoring veterans

Manhattan College coach Barry Rohrssen and American University coach Jeff Jones spent time together this summer in the Middle East as participants in Operation Hardwood, a USO-sponsored event that brings a touch of basketball to those serving in the military.

On Monday night, their teams will meet as part of Iraq War Veterans Appreciation Day at Manhattan. All veterans and their families will receive complementary tickets to the game.

Poll vault

The Big East has drawn all the attention this season in the Top 25, with a record eight teams in the rankings for the past three weeks.

But another conference deserves some two-sport props.

There are six schools that have teams ranked this week in both the AP’s basketball and football polls and half of them are from the Big 12.

Oklahoma is No. 4 in basketball and No. 2 in football, while Texas is No. 9 and No. 3, respectively, and Missouri is 25th in both.

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