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Penn's #24 Jack Eggleston protects the ball against Delaware's #23 Hakim McCullar. Credit: Jake Werlin

Despite the recent move of the New Jersey Nets to Newark, basketball will indeed be returning to the Meadowlands this winter — at least for one day.

On Dec. 4, the Penn men’s basketball team will take on Army at noon in the first game of a doubleheader, with Duke and Butler squaring off in the nightcap — a rematch of last year’s national championship.

The Red and Blue faithful who plan to travel to East Rutherford, N.J., will have to fork over $78.50 — the entrance fee is good for both games — but for hoops nuts, the two matchups should prove well worth the money.

The Duke-Butler rematch is one of this season’s most anticipated games and will be televised live on ESPN. Last April, the Blue Devils captured the NCAA title with a thrilling 61-59 victory over a Butler team that came within inches of pulling off a Cinderella story for the ages.

Nonetheless, the rematch should be hotly contested, even if the some of the game’s key players may no longer be there — most notably, Bulldogs star Gordon Hayward, who was drafted by the Utah Jazz with the ninth pick in the NBA draft.

And yet, before Duke and Butler add another chapter to their budding rivalry, Penn and Army will rekindle a rivalry of their own, one that dates back more than a century, when the teams first met in 1907.

The Quakers are 20-12 all-time during that span and won the most recent installment, 71-56, on December 3, 1999.

Despite the fact that the two teams have not met this millennium, Patriot League contender Army has been a familiar foe for several Ivy squads. The Black Knights went 5-0 against Ivy competition last season.

“The style of play displayed in the Patriot League compares to the Ivy League play very well,” senior forward Jack Eggleston said. “[It’s] a similar type of basketball [and has] a similar talent level, so I think playing Army is going to prepare us well for the Ivy League schedule.”

Though it is too early to predict how Army’s freshmen will contribute to the team’s output, a look at this year’s roster shows that three of the team’s top four scorers from last season have since graduated.

For a team like Army, though, it seems that reputation precedes personnel.

“It’s going to be a hard-fought game,” Eggleston said. “The two service academies [Army and Navy] have a reputation for being very physical.”

Taking place in northern Jersey, the game will also be a homecoming of sorts for junior guard Zack Rosen, a Colonia, N.J., native.

Last year’s leading scorer in the Ivy League, Rosen is looking forward to see some friends and family in the stands, but he remained all-business in his assessment of the upcoming game, noting it will be just “one out of 14” nonconference games to be played this season.

Even so, the game has obvious ramifications for the program as a whole. After Penn stumbled to a 6-22 record last season, the Quakers have an opportunity to put themselves back on the map and maybe even surprise some casual basketball fans who take advantage of the Penn-Army appetizer before the main course of Duke and Butler.

“We’re going to play a really exciting style,” Rosen said, referring to head coach Jerome Allen’s system. “We’re going to get out there and we’re going to get after it and compete.”

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