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Breaking down Rutgers' top-5 Big Ten upsets

There’s just three weeks remaining in the regular season, and the Rutgers men's lacrosse team is chasing a top 4 finish in the Big Ten, which would earn them a spot in the Big Ten Tournament and a chance to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004.

The No. 18 Scarlet Knights have to fight for their spot, as 2 of their last 3 games are against title contenders. This Sunday, they’ll play host to No. 3 Maryland, who are led by a dynamic offensive duo of Jared Bernhardt and Logan Wisnauskas. 

After Senior Day against Michigan, Rutgers will end its regular season on the road against No. 1 Penn State, who are led by Mac O’Keefe.

The Knights are no strangers to upsets: after all, they just took down then-No. 4 Ohio State on the road 14-6 10 days ago. Since joining the Big Ten, the program has had several big wins under head coach Brian Brecht.

No. 10 Johns Hopkins, 2016 (Big Ten Tournament)

Rutgers would have a breakout year in 2016, finishing with a 10-4 record on the backs of a dynamic attack led by sophomore attack Adam Charalambides. This earned the Knights a spot in the 2016 Big Ten Tournament in Baltimore, where they defeated No. 10 Johns Hopkins on its home turf 14-12.  

Charalambides, then a freshman, had 5 goals in the semifinal, including the go-ahead goal with 8:48 remaining. Rutgers would lose the Big Ten title game to No. 2 Maryland, and did not receive an at-large bid from the Selection Committee for the NCAA Tournament

No. 10 Ohio State, 2015

This was the first Big Ten win for the Knights, as they defeated the Buckeyes on Senior Day in a dominant performance. The game opened up in the second quarter, as Rutgers would go on a 7-0 run to take control. While the Knights finished with a 5-11 record (1-4 Big Ten), the win sent shockwaves through the world of college lacrosse and was a sign of things to come for Rutgers.

No. 11 Penn State 2018

Last season, the Knights' highest-ranked win came against the No. 11 Nittany Lions by a score of 11-8. Rutgers was powered by hat-tricks from alumnus midfielder Christian Mazzone and junior attack Kieran Mullins, and a 4-point outing from alumnus attack Jules Heningburg. The win was Rutgers’ second in conference play that year, and earned them the second seed in the Big Ten Tournament.

No. 4 Ohio State, 2018

The most recent upset rounds out the top five, as the Knights earned a vital road win against Ohio State 14-6. Rutgers took an early lead and never looked back, riding strong offensive performances from Charalambides and Mullins, who finished with four and three goals respectively.

No. 3 Ohio State, 2017

The Knights finished their 2017 season in dramatic fashion, coming from behind to take down the Buckeyes 12-11. Rutgers took control in the fourth period, as Heningburg and fifth-year senior midfielder Casey Rose took control of the game off back-to-back scores in the fourth quarter. 

But, the Knights didn’t make the Big Ten Tournament that year, and the selection committee did not give them an at-large bid.

For updates on the Rutgers men's lacrosse team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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