There is no such thing as normal during a global pandemic and that was highlighted once again on Monday night. The Rutgers men’s basketball announced its first three non-conference games of the 2020-2021 season, which begins on Wednesday night. The Scarlet Knights are scheduled to play three games at the RAC during the opening week of the season. Here are the dates, times, TV and KenPom rankings for each opponent:
Wednesday, November 25 vs. Sacred Heart (no. 325) at 7 p.m. on BTN Plus
Friday, November 27 vs. FDU (no. 229) at 7 p.m. on BTN
Sunday, November 29 vs. Hofstra (no. 152) at 4 p.m. on BTN
The games against FDU and Hofstra are part of the New Jersey Hoop Group Classic multi-team event. Rutgers had reportedly been set to face Rider on Sunday, but they dropped out once their head coach Kevin Baggett told Jon Rothstein that his program didn’t want to play non-conference games after his team was quarantined due to a COVID-19 positive test.
Hofstra are the defending CAA regular season and Tournament champions. While they have lost several key players from that team, it’s a solid addition to the schedule, especially considering how close to the start of the season that it was added.
The only other non-conference game currently scheduled is against Syracuse (no. 31) at the RAC on December 8 as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Home games this season are not open to fans due to state regulations issued by Governor Phil Murphy for a 150-person limit on indoor sporting events. That means only essential personnel that includes the players, coaches and officials. It appears all Big Ten teams will play without fans as well.
While the possibility of playing Seton Hall remains, it would likely need to take place during a bye week for both programs in January or February. The Big East has yet to announce their conference slate for those months.
One interesting development which was first reported by Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press was that Rutgers had attempted to schedule a game against Oregon for next week at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. That would have set up an intriguing matchup against another ranked opponent that also features former Rutgers captain Eugene Omoruyi. Unfortunately, Jon Rothstein reported on Monday that Oregon was no longer traveling to the East Coast due to the uptick in COVID-19 cases around the country.
Rutgers has three more potential non-conference games to schedule and hopefully one will be against another power five program. During this uncertain time and roughly 15% of Division I programs on pause due to COVID-19 issues, let’s hope they are able to add more games and that they are actually played.
The Big Ten schedule was released last week and Rutgers opens the conference slate on December 14 at Maryland, followed by a home game against Illinois on December 20.
For a full preview of the journey ahead for Rutgers men’s basketball, click here.