A rematch at the RAC is set for next season, as Rutgers men’s basketball will host Clemson as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge it was announced on Monday afternoon.
The two teams met last March in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament with Rutgers winning 60-56 to advance in the big dance for the first time in 38 years.
Four Scarlet Knights scored in double digits in the victory with Geo Baker, Jacob Young and Caleb McConnell all finishing with 13 points, while Ron Harper Jr. added 10 points. Rutgers will know soon if Baker and Harper Jr. will return for next season with the deadline for withdrawing from the NBA Draft on July 7. If they do return, RU will have a strong veteran core returning for next season and will likely be favored in the rematch.
In the loss last March, Clemson was led by Aamir Simms (15 points) and Clyde Trapp (14 points). Neither will be back next season, as Simms hired an agent to stay in the NBA Draft and Trapp transferred to Charlotte.
It is the second time that the two programs will meet in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge with RU having won 69-64 during its inaugural year in the conference. The all-time series is tied at 2-2.
Rutgers is 3-4 all-time in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and won last year’s meeting against Syracuse at the RAC by the score of 79-69.
Last week, it was announced that Rutgers will play at DePaul in the Gavitt Games between the Big Ten and Big East.
The annual Garden State Hardwood Classic against Seton Hall was previously announced earlier this month after both sides were able to agree to continue to rivalry after a one year pause last season.
As for the rest of the non-conference schedule, Rutgers will once again host the Hoop Group Garden State Classic. It is a four team MTE that will include Lehigh, NJIT and Merrimack per public records obtained by the D1 Docket.
In addition, the other non-conference games reported so far by Rothstein were UMASS and Rider. Another three contests should be added along with the 20 game Big Ten schedule that had the matchups for next season previously announced.
One season after making the NCAA Tournament, it appears the non-conference schedule will be headlined with Clemson, DePaul and Seton Hall as the only high major opponents. Perhaps another high major opponent will be added to the non-conference schedule for next season, but I wouldn’t expect that to be the case. However, by not doing so, Rutgers will have a smaller margin for error in the non-conference portion of the season and limited opportunities to register resume building wins ahead of Big Ten play. That being said, if the Scarlet Knights can produce a winning record in the Big Ten, it will make a strong case to make the NCAA Tournament for a second consecutive season. More to come as the offseason continues.