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Rutgers is early favorite over Clemson ahead of NCAA Tournament matchup

The Scarlet Knights are set for its first tournament game in 30 years on Friday.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Rutgers vs Illinois Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Selection Sunday is now over and for the first time in 30 years, Rutgers will see its name in the bracket.

Reality is beginning to set in for the i10th-seeded Scarlet Knights and their fans as they prepare for a first-round matchup against No. 7 Clemson in the Midwest Region on Friday night. The game is set to tipoff at 9:20 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and will air on TBS.

Despite being the lower seed, Rutgers opened up as a pick em with Clemson. In just one day, RU as a currently a 1.5-point favorite for the first-round matchup, according to BetOnline.

Clemson will come into this game with some familiarity with Big Ten teams. The Tigers and Scarlet Knights are both 3-1 against common opponents. Both teams have beat Purdue this season. Rutgers split the season-series with Maryland while taking down Syracuse, who the Tigers split with this season.

Both Rutgers and Clemson have been average against the spread. The Scarlet Knights are 13-12-1 ATS while the Tigers are 11-11-1. Rutgers is also 7-5 ATS when having four or more days off and Clemson is 5-3 in that same situation. To continue to show similarities, both Rutgers (5-5) and Clemson (3-3) are .500 ATS coming off a loss. The Scarlet Knights suffered a blowout loss against Illinois in the Big Ten Tournament while Clemson was upset by Miami in the ACC Tournament.

This could be the 17th game of the season where Rutgers was favored. They are 8-7-1 ATS as a favorite to this point. Clemson is 3-5 ATS as an underdog. When looking at the trends, there are few that jump out and separate these two teams from each other.

The one trend that is a bit lopsided is the record ATS in non-conference games. The Scarlet Knights are 1-2-1 ATS in those games while Clemson was 5-1.

The over/under is currently set at 126. These are both teams that can play defense and have had their struggles offensively. Rutgers has hit 12 overs in 26 games while Clemson has went over the number 12 times in 23 games.

Rutgers (no. 34) is ranked eight spots higher than Clemson (no. 42) in KenPom entering this matchup and is projected as a two point favorite by the analytics site.

We have seen the Scarlet Knights get off to slow starts on many occasions this season. They hopefully reverse that trend on Friday night. This is one of the most even matchups in the first round and for what it’s worth, Rutgers is currently favored.