Steve Pikiell said that Rutgers would absolutely accept a bid to the NIT Tournament after being left out of the NCAA Tournament bracket.
As expected, the Scarlet Knights were selected as a No. 1 seed for the 2023 tournament.
Rutgers will host Hofstra in the first round on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. The first three rounds of the tournament ill be played at the campus sites of the higher seeds. This means that Rutgers could have three more games at Jersey Mike’s Arena if it is able to advance on.
This marks the 15th appearance all-time for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights were last featured in the NIT in 2006, losing to St. Joe’s in the first round. In 2004, Rutgers as able to make a run to the title game before falling to Michigan.
“It is like any game,” Pikiell said following the Selection Show on Sunday night. “You have to be ready to get your team off the mat. I want them to know I played in the NIT myself as a player and we had an unbelievable run when I was at the University of Connecticut in 1988. It was one of the great experiences that I had in basketball. Today they don’t want to hear those things, but tomorrow we will get them in a room and try to make sure they understand that a lot of teams have hung up their uniforms and we have a chance to keep playing as a group.”
Entering Sunday, many thought that Rutgers would land its third-consecutive NCAA Tournament berth. It turns out that it could not overcome the late-season collapse and early-season scheduling. Despite a victory over Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament, the committee felt like Rutgers did not do enough to get the nod.
Now, the Scarlet Knights will have at least one more chance to play on their home floor on Tuesday night in the postseason. Pikiell quickly said that Rutgers would accept a bid to get the seniors on the team in as many games asp possible.
“I want Caleb (McConnell) and Paul (Mulcahy) to play as many games as they can,” Pikiell said. “I obviously don’t want this season to end. This group has done a lot of great things for us and to have an opportunity to play a home game for those guys would be very important. I would love for them to take advantage of postseason play.”