For the first time in 30 years, the Rutgers men’s basketball team has qualified for the NCAA Tournament. The Scarlet Knights (15-11, 10-10) were placed in the Midwest region in the 10th seed, where they will play Clemson in the Round of 64 on Friday.
Rutgers makes its seventh appearance all-time to the tournament, and enters for the first time as a member of the Big Ten. Through a pandemic and a schedule ranked in the top ten in the nation in difficulty, the Knights finished tied for fifth in the conference, earning their ticket to the tournament with two end of season wins over Minnesota and Indiana.
This Selection Sunday ends a two-year quest for Rutgers, as their 20-11 record last season had them primed for a bid, before the tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. In his fifth season as leader of the program, head men’s basketball coach Steve Pikiell makes his first March Madness appearance since 2016, when his Stony Brook team won the America East conference.
“Our guys are excited to be in the tournament for the first time in 30 years and to have a chance to play for a national championship,” Pikiell said. “It's a real challenging league... I'm thankful for a lot of people for all their hard work to get us to this point.”
The Knights had multiple players help lead them to this achievement, including senior guards Geo Baker and Jacob Young, junior forward Ron Harper Jr., and junior center Myles Johnson. Rutgers will look to win their first NCAA Tournament game as a program since 1983 when they face off against the Tigers (16-7, 10-6) on Friday in an undetermined location in Indiana.
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