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Rutgers to return to Super Saturday slate in 2021

 – Photo by Curstine Guevarra

The Rutgers men's basketball and wrestling teams will feature the Big Ten Super Saturday slate at Madison Square Garden (MSG) on Feb. 1, 2020. The Scarlet Knights will get accustomed to playing and wrestling at the Garden, dubbed The Mecca of Basketball, for the next two years.

The Big Ten announced Monday that Rutgers will return to the Super Saturday schedule on Jan. 30, 2021, for both men's basketball and wrestling. The Knights will play Michigan State while wrestling Penn State in two years at MSG. 

Rutgers was last a part of the Super Saturday festivities on Jan. 28, 2017, where it fell to then-No. 15 Wisconsin 61-54 in overtime, a game where the Badgers' Ethan Happ scored a game-high 32 points. 

The following season, the Big Ten Tournament was hosted at MSG, where the Knights, the No. 14 seed, made their deepest run, highlighted by three consecutive wins en route to a quarterfinals appearance. They eventually were knocked out by Purdue, then the No. 8 team in the country and the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament.

The Super Saturday in 2020 marks the first time that MSG will break out a mat instead of the ice rink. The event, which had its inaugural competition on Jan. 30, 2016, has previously hosted Big Ten ice hockey teams to skate on the New York Rangers' NHL-sized ice.

When Rutgers and Michigan wrestle this coming February, it will mark the first time in the four-year event's history that wrestling will be incorporated in the doubleheader. 

The Wolverines had previously participated in three events — two ice hockey and one men's basketball game — dating back to the first contest on the hardwood where an attended 12,108 fans saw them defeat the Nittany Lions 78-72.

Michigan also took down Penn State in ice hockey in 2016, but was on the losing end this past January to the Lions. 

The Knights will face the Wolverines twice this season, including a home game at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC) on Feb. 19, 2020. The Super Saturday meeting, technically a neutral site game, will feature Michigan as the "host" school with tipoff set for 4:30 p.m. The wrestling match between the two schools will precede the hardwood contest at 1 p.m.

The Wolverines are not currently ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll to start the season. They finished with a 30-7 overall and 15-5 Big Ten record last year, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen before the runner-ups of the national championship, Texas Tech, knocked them out.

Michigan enters this season with a new head coach in Juwan Howard, as former head coach and 2014 Big Ten Coach of the Year John Beilein took over the same position with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA. 

In 2021, Rutgers will have a chance to go up against the No. 1 Spartans, who are the consensus top team in both the AP and USA Coaches polls. Michigan State made it all the way to the Final Four this past March, losing to the third-seeded Red Raiders. 

The Knights open Big Ten play in East Lansing, Michigan, against the Spartans on Dec. 8. 

Rutgers will have the chance to square off against another top team, this time on the mat in 2021: Penn State. The Lions top the NWCA Polls to start this wrestling season after going undefeated in dual meets last season. They were the top team at the NCAA Championships while capturing three national titles this past March in Pittsburgh.

The two schools did not compete last season. Penn State will host the Knights on Jan. 19, 2020. Rutgers opened the season with three victories at its home quad meet against Centenary, Pitt-Johnstown and LIU. 

The Knights' men's basketball schedule starts on Thursday when Bryant comes to the RAC. Rutgers enters the year without its leading scorer from last season, Eugene Omoyuri, who elected to transfer to Oregon of the PAC 12 in the offseason. 

For updates on Rutgers Athletics, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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