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Rutgers women’s basketball opens 2020-2021 season against Monmouth

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C. Vivian Stringer may have her most talented team in years.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 22 Women’s Ohio State at Rutgers Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

UPDATE:

The Rutgers women’s basketball team opens the 2020-21 regular season on Wednesday, Nov. 25 at 11 a.m. against Monmouth at the RAC. Due to the global pandemic COVID-19 and the uncertainty it brings to this season, the rest of the non-conference schedule has not been released.

As for the Big Ten schedule, it was announced on Monday with the Scarlet Knights set to open conference play at Wisconsin on December 11. Rutgers will play three of the top five teams named in both the coaches and media preseason poll which include Maryland, Northwestern, and Ohio State. The two teams in that group that they only play once is league favorite Indiana, who they play on the road, and Michigan, who they play at home.

Despite not being included in the top five in the Big Ten preseason poll, expectations should be high for Rutgers this season. Three starters return from last year’s team that went 22-9 that was primed to make the NCAA Tournament for a second straight season before it was cancelled due to COVID-19.

The Scarlet Knights are led by reigning Big Ten scoring champion and All-American Arella Guirantes. She was named preseason co-Big Ten Player of the Year by the coaches and one of 20 players named to the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award Watch List for the nation’s top shooting guard. In addition to Guirantes, Rutgers returns experience in the frontcourt with Big Ten All-Defensive Team selection Tekia Mack and Mael Gilles.

Another key returning player is former 5-star recruit Zipporah Broughton, who head coach C. Vivian Stringer singled out on Media Day as being impressed with her approach to this season.

Rutgers also adds a heralded freshman class that is headlined by point guard Diamond Johnson, who was included as one of 20 players named to the Nancy Lieberman Award Watch List, which is given annually the nation’s top point guard. Johnson was ranked the 6th best prospect in the 2020 recruiting class, while frontcourt players Sakima Walker was ranked 21st and Chyna Cornwell was ranked 48th. In addition, guard Elizabeth Martino was 53rd and the entire 2020 recruiting class was ranked top 10 nationally by multiple sites.

Of course, how many games Rutgers ultimately play is in question due to the global pandemic. However, this team has a lot of talent and how they develop chemistry on the court will be essential to their success this season. Guirantes is one of the best players in the country and Johnson could have the biggest impact as a freshman since Rutgers legend Cappie Pondexter patrolled the RAC. Mack is a gamer and Gilles is a versatile contributor. If Broughton can be more consistent and the frontcourt can get production from Walker and Cornwell, this team will be capable of going far this season.

TV Note: All Big Ten women’s basketball non-conference home games through Dec. 2 will be streamed live on Big Ten Network+ (formerly BTN+), and schools will announce the start times for those games in the coming days.