The No. 10 Rutgers Scarlet Knights and No. 7 Clemson Tigers meet in the late night hours on the first day of the NCAA Tournament. Well, second day if you count the First Four play-in games. Everyone knows that the first real card of the NCAA Tournament is on Thursday, err, Friday. With the tournament pushed back one day, the first full day of action is on Friday. Then Saturday will follow with the rest of the games for the first round.
The first game tipping off is the Virginia Tech Hokies and Florida Gators at 12:15 p.m. EST. The final game you’re going to find on the board is the Winthrop Eagles and Villanova Wildcats going off at approximately 9:57 p.m. EST. There is a chance of a delay due to earlier games. We will have Winthrop and Villanova, along with a bunch of other first round NCAA Tournament games at TheSportsGeek.
Keep it locked here for all of the picks and latest news for the first tournament in two years. It doesn’t feel like we’ve gone through a year already, but there was no NCAA Tournament a season ago because of, you guessed it. It’s great to be back, though it’s crazy that we’ve flown through a year now.
There are games where the NCAA Tournament committee and oddsmakers disagree. This is one of those games, as Rutgers is the betting favorite, but the committee has them as the No. 10 in the dance. They could have easily put Clemson as the No. 10 seed and Rutgers at No. 7, but have to agree based on their resumes, it was a close call. In any case, this should make for a good matchup on the evening slate.
Rutgers goes into the NCAA Tournament with a record of 15-11. They lost against the high powered Illinois Fighting Illini in the Big Ten Tournament by a score of 90-68. The Scarlet Knights were 61-50 winners in the first round of the conference tournament, but failed to pull off the upset against Illinois.
They take on a Clemson squad that fell against Miami in the first game of the ACC Tournament, 67-64. They lost that one as an 11-point favorite. Clemson finished off the season with a record of 16-7. It was an up and down season for Clemson, ending the ACC slate in disappointment against a bad Miami team. Head below for our free Rutgers vs. Clemson pick on Mach 19, 2021.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights (No. 10) vs. Clemson Tigers (No. 7) NCAA Tournament Betting Odds:
Rutgers vs. Clemson Prediction:
Rutgers has looked really good in spots this season, and then during other times they’ve looked more than vulnerable. There are some wins on their resume to like. For instance, Rutgers beat ranked Illinois, 91-88, and Purdue, 81-76, early on in December. The Scarlet Knights also took Iowa to the wire in a 77-75 loss, along with a 71-64 loss against the Michigan Wolverines on the road. Rutgers has played against some really good teams in the Big Ten this season, and I’d have to say that they’re battle tested for the NCAA Tournament.
Rutgers also had a couple of solid wins over Minnesota by scores of 76-72 at home and 77-70 on the road to get the sweep. They relied on a fairly balanced attack offensively and defensively. They were at their best when Ron Harper Jr. was feeling hot. Clemson does not have a playmaker on their roster, though the Scarlet Knights do with Harper Jr. Come tournament time, it’s important to have a playmaker on the roster that can score points in bunches.
Harper Jr. is going to be the best player on the court today. He scored an average of 15.4 and 5.9 rebounds per game. His leaping ability for a guard is impressive, and he can hit shots from the outside as well. Harper Jr. is shooting 45.6% from the field this season. It wouldn’t be too surprising if he takes this game over. Rutgers scored an average of 70.4 points per game, which is relatively average offensively.
Clemson wins games with their defense. They were one of the better units in the NCAA statistically, with 61.8 points conceded per game for 12th. However, Clemson didn’t have the toughest of schedules in the ACC. In a normal season, the ACC is one of the most feared conferences in basketball. The offense lagged behind significantly. Clemson scored 65.4 points per game for 307th in the country. They shot just 42.6% from the field.
The oddsmakers clearly don’t agree with the oddsmakers. Whenever a lower seed is the betting favorite over a higher seed, they tend to believe that the committee didn’t get it right. While it isn’t like this is a huge point spread or anything, it’s almost even, I’m siding with the oddsmakers in this matchup. Harper Jr. has the talent to separate the Scarlet Knights from the Tigers tonight. I will lay the small number on Rutgers.