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How will homecourt advantage change for Rutgers men's basketball during pandemic?

Last season, the Scarlet Knights finished with the best home record in the nation, going 18-1 – Photo by

Many questions have not been answered about the start of the college basketball season, and no official team schedules have been released.

One thing that is unlikely is the Rutgers men’s basketball team playing in front of its fans at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC) this year.

The RAC has a capacity of 8,000 people, making it the second-smallest basketball arena in the Big Ten. While it may not hold a relatively large amount of people, the arena is known for being one of the loudest and most difficult places to play.

Last season, the Scarlet Knights finished with the best home record in the nation, going 18-1, with notable wins over Seton Hall, Illinois and Maryland.

The dominance at home helped Rutgers all-but-secure a trip to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament for the first time in 29 years, before the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic led to its cancellation.

With the current limit of 150 people in an entertainment center set by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) and the possibility of playing in a bubble for most of the season, the Knights could lose one of the possible advantages that helped give them success last year.

The away team only made more than 40 percent of its three-pointer shots once out of the 19 games at the RAC this year, according to and its game logs of the past season. In one of its most notable wins of the season, Rutgers held the Terrapins, who were ranked No. 9 at the time, to less than 19 percent from three and only 38 percent shooting for the whole game.

For the Knights, 11 of the top 12 defensive games in terms of turnovers caused came at the RAC. 

In addition, in January, Rutgers fans began chanting at a home game against Indiana, “We want Cliff! We want Cliff!”

They did this for former recruiting target and current true freshman center Cliff Omoruyi, who was attending the game and sitting behind the Knights bench. A few months later, Omoruyi, a top 50 recruit in the nation, chose to stay home and commit to playing on the Banks. 

Head men's basketball coach Steve Pikiell said a fan-less arena would be an obstacle this year.

“Everyone wants the RAC packed and rocking,” Pikiell said in an interview with James Kratch of NJ Advance Media. “But if this keeps us healthy until they get a remedy for this pandemic, a vaccine, and this is what we have to do to have a season, then that’s the obstacle we have this year.”

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

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