This season, 125 teams across 4 recreation centers took part in one of our largest intramural basketball seasons ever. Each team took the court with the dream of playing for a championship. . This year, thanks to the hospitality of Rutgers athletics, all 8 championship games will be played at Jersey Mike’s Arena. Here we will preview each of the championship matchups and look back to how we got to this week of championship games.
Before we preview what is coming up, let’s look at how these games came to be. Each campus provides the opportunity for basketball leagues in the winter season. Each league has its own unique quirks. For example, the College Ave & Keller Fraternity league does not have 3 point lines, Busch has a modified 3 point line, Livingston is full court, while Cook has 3 point lines but isn’t full length. This provides a unique feel to each league. Each campus (except for Busch) also has an A league for the players who are more skilled and looking for a challenge while the B leagues are for all skill levels. Before this year, only the A league playoffs were played at Jersey Mike’s Arena, this year will allow the B league teams that opportunity.
I would also like to take this time to thank the referees, supervisors, managers & players for making this an amazing year of basketball at Rutgers. Over 300 games were overseen by the Intramural Sports staff and officiated by student officials. Over 1,200 participants stepped onto the floor and participated this winter. This season provided many memorable moments, acts of triumph and demoralizing heartbreak. But without the students who work and the students who play, none of this is possible. The Rutgers community loves basketball, and it was on full display in 2023!
Now let’s take a look at each championship matchup and keys to victory for each team:
KELLER FRATERNITY BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP TUESDAY @ 8PM:
#6 ZETA PSI vs. #9 SIGMA CHI
For those that don’t know, the Keller Fraternity championship is a year-long competition between fraternities across a multitude of sports. This is a tradition at Rutgers since 1934. This year is one of the most competitive races for the Keller Cup in recent memory. Teams receive points based on participation and success in leagues and tournaments. There are six fraternities right now who have a shot to win. This Keller basketball championship will have a major say in how the overall championship may go. One team is looking to put themselves in position to win, while another is looking to play spoiler and assert their presence as a new fraternity in Keller.
#9 Sigma Chi
The league is split into 3 divisions, the top two from each division secure a playoff spot, and 4 wild cards qualified for the bracket. With a 3-1 record Sigma Chi seemed to be an easy qualifier. But their division, the toughest in Keller, saw them in 4th place based on tie breakers. They were still able to qualify as the 9 seed and have made the “FAU” run to the championship. A dominating performance in the first game with a defensive effort that would make Caleb McConnell proud saw them hold their opponent to under 10 points, that is not a typo. Then they faced the #1 overall seed in the 2nd round. In a hotly contested game, they were able to hold on for a 3 point win. In the semi-finals Sigma Chi had finally put it all together for a dominating win to punch their ticket to the championship. They are riding a 6-game winning streak coming into the final and with a win, put themselves firmly in a position to win the Keller Cup.
#6 Zeta Psi
Zeta Psi are a newcomer to the Keller division this semester. Because of this, they are ineligible for the top prize of the Keller cup, but they want to show that they belong and will look to compete for the prize next year. In the same division as their opponent, Zeta Psi proved themselves a championship contender going 3-1 in the regular season. an equally dominating performance on the defensive side of the ball helped them reach the semi-final without too much stress. An 11-point win in the semi-final sees them riding a 3 game winning streak, all by double figures, as they prepare for the championship game. Zeta Psi has the chance to be the Merrimack of this tournament. They are ineligible for the Keller Cup, but they can win the basketball championship and set the groundwork for a run at the cup starting in the fall next year. a basketball championship for the new fraternity in Keller would be quite the starting chip for them to have heading into next season.
LIVINGSTON B CHAMPIONSHIP TUESDAY @ 9PM:
#1 DN LAKERS vs. #2 RUTGERS FOOTBALL EQ:
The Livingston B matchup strayed away from the upsets that we saw in the NCAA tournament. The top two teams will meet, both were undefeated in the regular season so one team will experience defeat while one will remain perfect to end the season. The Livingston B playoffs played out as chalk throughout the playoffs as DN Lakers defeated the 4 seed Big Girls Don’t Kawai to reach the final, while Rutgers Football EQ defeated the #3 seed rin to punch their ticket to Jersey Mike’s Arena.
#1 DN Lakers
Both teams relied on their defense to have success this season. DN Lakers held their opponents under 50 points in all but one game this season. This allowed them to stick to their gameplan and execute on the offensive end. Their defensive effort led to two games holding their opponents under 30 points. DN Lakers were second in the league for Points For with 203, which helped them tie for 2nd in Point Differential. Their sportsmanship score of a 4 throughout the season was the ultimate tiebreaker that led them to earning the #1 overall seed.
DN Laker’s run through March saw a scare in the 1st round. They defeated the #9 seed 57-52 led by an MVP performance from Maayanth Nair. Another tight game in the semi-finals has prepared them for the championship under the bright lights.
Rutgers Football EQ used a suffocating defense to great success throughout the season. They held their opponents under 30 points in 3 out of the 4 regular season games. They led the league in points for, against, and differential. The only thing that held them back from the #1 seed was a sportsmanship score below a 4. They did prove that they could also win in a shootout, as their other win was a 69-58 performance. Rutgers Football EQ was led by a strong performance from Andrew Bungarden who had MVP level performance in both the regular season and playoffs.
Just like their opponents, Rutgers Football EQ have been battle tested in the postseason. They defeated the #7 seed in the first round in a hard fought, grind out game and was able to survive and advance against the #3 seed in the semi-final.
Two defensive minded teams will face off Tuesday 4/5 at 9pm. Whichever team will be able to hit their shots, especially the contested shots, will have the edge. This has the ability to be one of the most compelling matchups of the week.
BUSCH CHAMPIONSHIP WEDNESDAY @ 8PM:
#2 ANKLE BULLIES VS. #13 DKESKETEBALL
The Busch championship is a compelling matchup. Don’t let the 13 seed fool you, due to a forfeit Dkesketball was put on the bubble, but managed to qualify for the playoffs with a strong regular season. The Ankle Bullies went undefeated through the regular season. They led the league in points for, against, and differential. Their sportsmanship score is what kept them from the #1 overall seed. These two teams faced off in the final week of the regular season with the Ankle Bullies got the first win 68-61. Will it be the same this time around? Or will the #13 seed get revenge.
#2 Ankle Bullies
The Ankle Bullies were pretty dominant in the regular season. Multiple double-digit wins, high point totals, and a strong playoff showing has them coming into the championship game with a lot of confidence. The biggest thing Ankle Bullies will need to do is keep their composure. They have had their share of unsporting issues this year and technical fouls can be absolutely devastating in championship games. Shot making will be key for the Ankle Bullies, if they catch fire like they are known to do, they are hard to keep up with.
The #13 seed had a strong season but will be looking to avenge their loss to their championship opponents. Their two wins were done in dominant fashion and their one loss that was played was a single digit loss. A default in the middle of the season saw their record be 2-2 but down the bottom of the standings due to the point loss. They have had to win 3 in a row to get to Jersey Mike’s Arena so they will be coming in playing their best basketball of the season. This is a battle tested team that won’t back down from a challenge, and they will need to play their best ball to take home the championship.
COOK A CHAMPIONSHIP WEDNESDAY @ 9PM :
#1 THE MONSTARS VS #3 LEORGE JW
Same name, different team. The Monstars come in holding one of the most impressive records in IM history. They will face off against the 3 seed Leorge JW. This team had an impressive season in their own right. The Cook A league is widely considered the top league on campus, the Big 10 of intramural sports if you will, so this matchup has the potential to be an instant classic.
#1 The Monstars
The Monstars do one thing extremely well, score. They scored 99+ points in all but one game this season, topped by an absurd 145-124 victory over The Inactives week 3. This is a team full of shot makers, they take advantage of the 3 point line on Cook and haven’t seen a shot they haven’t liked. While most of their games are high scoring shootouts, they can turn on the defense when they need to do so. They had a strong fight in week one winning 78-70, but from there they dominated their way to the #1 seed with blowout win after blowout win. This continued in the playoffs, both games scoring 99 & 100 points respectively while holding their opponents to 62 & 72 points. If the Monstars can get their offense clicking, they are almost impossible to beat. No one has been able to slow them down, will this continue in the championship game, or will they finally be slowed down? Either way, it will be fascinating to see how much The Monstars light up the Jersey Mike’s Arena scoreboard.
#3 Leorge JW
Leorge JW had a strong start to their season. while not as lethal as The Monstar’s offense, Leorge JW’s offense shouldn’t be scoffed at. A 95 & 82 point performance in two of their wins would usually be an eye opener for intramural sports, but this year it was more of a routine in the Cook A League. Leorge JW got out to a hot start winning their first 2 games before hitting a road block and losing a tough game to Last Dance 92-80. They recovered nicely to win a 1 possession game 73-70 over Super Gremlins to secure a 3-1 record and the 3 seed. Their playoff run was all about rematches. The first round saw them run it back against Super Gremlins, and what could be described as a defensive battle in the Cook league saw Leorge LW advance with a 64-56 victory. Next was their shot at redemption against Last Dance. In what was one of the best playoff games in recent memory, Leorge LW was able to get their revenge with a 92-89 victory to punch their ticket to Jersey Mike’s Arena. Their next task will be the toughest of the season by far. Can they slow down the dominant offense of the Monstars? And can they hit the shots needed to stay in the game? This game has the ability for both teams to put 100 on the scoreboard.
COLLEGE AVE B CHAMPIONSHIP THURSDAY @8PM:
#1 BIG BALLAS VS. #3 SHANGHAI SHARKS
Two undefeated teams, one championship, what more could you ask for? Both of these teams have had impressive seasons and they have both earned their right to play at Jersey Mike’s Arena. One of these teams will have their perfect season ended while the other will be crowned champions. This should be a good one.
The Shanghai Sharks have seen it all and won every way this season. Close games, blowouts, high scoring, low scoring, they did it all. Their sportsmanship score put them in the 3 seed but it still earned them a 1st round bye. They defeated the 11 seed and 3 seed on their road to JMA. They have had an MVP performance from captain Michael Wood. The Sharks will need to utilize the addition of the 3 point line to their advantage if they want to be crowned champions and defeat the top seed.
The Big Ballas earned the #1 see this season. Their defense was the top in the league, but don’t mistake that this means that they cannot score. After a close 3 point win in week 1, they turned it on and didn’t have to sweat in the regular season. The team spread out contributions to each of their wins with top performances form Lance Pagulayan, Christian Kushnir, Nicholas Kushnir & Jedediah Handerhan. Nicholas matched his regular season with an elite playoff performance in the 1st round. The Big Ballas have the ability to run the table on Thursday and cement themselves as top of the College Ave B League.
LIVINGSTON A CHAMPIONSHIP THURSDAY @ 9PM:
#8 Underdawgs vs #10 Monstars
If you were looking for a matchup that had chaos in the upsets like this year’s NCAA tournament, here it is. While these seeds will cause eyebrows to raise, this still has the ability to be a competitive matchup. The reason for this is these two teams faced off early in the season. The Monstars got the better of the Underdawgs 70-63 week 1. Will this be a repeat of this first matchup? Or will the underdawgs get some revenge on the big court?
Both teams showed they can win any style of game. Both can score, and both can play defense. While the Monstars got the upper hand week 1, these two teams evolved over the season, this should make for an intriguing matchup. One interesting aspect of this game is both of these teams took the hard way to the championship. They played in the 1st round “last 4” games and had to win 3 straight games to reach the championship.
The Underdawgs were an 8 seed, but still held an impressive 3-1 record. After their initial loss to their championship opponent, they have rattled off 6 straight wins, 3 in the regular season and 3 in the postseason. They seemed to have found a groove and are putting it together at the right time. They were middle of the pack with their statistics, but anyone would trade stats for the instinct to win, and that’s what the Underdawgs have done. They even handed the top scoring team in the league their only loss of the regular season. Their postseason run saw a dominant performance in the 1st round in the “play-in” matchup against the #9 seed. They then had the task of upsetting the #1 seed and handing them their first loss of the season. It what was one of the best games of the year, the Underdawgs survived with a 1 point upset. This helped build their confidence and led to an impressive 22 point win in the semi-finals. They now head into their championship game on a heater and looking to avenge their only loss of the season.
The Monstars had an interesting season. They started off strong defeating their championship opponent. They then won their 2nd game in dominant fashion and looked poised to gain a high seed. They won their next game by forfeit which brought them to 3-0 but hurts the statistics. What brought them to the point where they had to win 3 games was they forfeited their final game of the regular season. This led to them being put squarely on the bubble for the playoff tournament. Their strong start to the season kept them in, but had them as the last team in heading into the playoffs. They took this as a point of motivation and dominated their first two matchups against the #7 seed & #2 seed. Their win vs the #2 seed was impressive as they held the number 4 scoring team to under 30 points. However, their next win may be the most impressive across all of the leagues this season. They faced the top scoring team in the league, this team scored 117 points in a game and was never lower than 70 points in the regular season. The Monstars held them to 53 points in their semi-final game. There is no doubt, even as a 10 seed, they earned their spot in the final.
Both these teams hold an impressive win on their resume, and the Monstars struck first in week 1. This matchup has the chance to be the one people talk about.
COLLEGE AVE A CHAMPIONSHIP THURSDAY 04/12 @9PM:
#3 LIFE OF PI VS. #8 MONTYSSS
The College Ave Leagues are always susceptible to Cinderella runs because of the lack of 3 point lines. This year was no different. The # 8 seed Montys are the FAU of Rutgers Intramural Sports this year. a true 8 seed, they have made an impressive run to the final. Life of Pi had an impressive start to the season, a 3 point loss in the last game of the season saw them fall down to the 3 seed. This matchup may be the most unpredictable of the 8. It is always an interesting change for the College Ave teams as they go from the small court to the full court with the 3 point line. The semi-final games are now played full court at College Ave to give teams a chance to adjust. We will see who can take advantage of the 3 point line.
Montysss had an up and down season. A tough loss in the first game had them on the back foot. They were able to recover with an impressive double digit win in week two, but suffered another difficult loss in week 3. This led to a must win game week 4, and to their benefit, they won their last game by forfeit. A few teams are very upset that this forfeit occurred as Montysss used it to rattle off 3 straight wins in the playoffs to be the true Cinderella of the season. Will the clock strike midnight for them? Or will they pull off an improbable run to the championship.
#3 Life of Pi
Life of Pi used strong defense to get out to 3 straight wins in the season. On top of that, they were executing their offense and putting teams away. A close, hard fought loss in week 4 saw them fall to the 3 seed for the league. Their performance in the playoffs remained consistent and saw them beat both the 6 seed and 7 seed. They were able to avenge their loss from the regular season in round 1, and built on their momentum into the semi finals. A strong performance by Mitchell Liebov in the semi-final helped them punch their ticket to Jersey Mike’s Arena.
COOK B CHAMPIONSHIP TBD:
#1 POUNDCAKES vs. #2. JAKEY’S BUCKETS
The Cook B championship game has been building all season, the top two teams are set to face off for league supremacy at Jersey Mike’s Arena. The B league was extremely competitive this year, and these two teams were at the top all season. Poundcakes went 4-0 and earned the #1 seed while Jakey’s Buckets went 3-0-1 and the tie kept them at the #2 seed. One team will experience their first loss next week, and one team will earn the right to call themselves champions.
Poundcakes were the top scorers in the league and held the best point differential. One word that can describe their effort this season – “consistent”. Their consistency helped them earn their undefeated record. High scoring, low scoring, it didn’t matter, they were able to win every which way. They won close games and blowouts. As the 1 seed they earned a bye to the semi-finals and they didn’t waste the opportunity. A 12 point win secured their ticket to Jersey Mike’s Arena to play for the championship.
#2. Jakey’s Buckets
Jakey’s Buckets had an interesting road to the championship game. They were awarded a forfeit win in week 1 to kick off their season. A win the following week had them thinking of a #1 seed. The following week we saw one of the most competitive games of the season. This game ended in a tie with the team COG. This tie took away any chance of the #1 seed, but due to their point differential, got them the #2 seed. It looked like they were destined to have a rematch against COG in the playoffs, but an upset in the 1st round changed things. Sometimes we see a top seed let their guard down when they get an underdog to advance against them, but Jakey’s Buckets stayed focused and punched their ticket to Jersey Mike’s Arena.