College/Prep Sports Reporter

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

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Cliff Omoruyi (5) of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights celebrates with teammates after defeating the Clemson Tigers in the first-round game of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 19, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Rutgers defeated Clemson 60-56.

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  • Last year’s record:
    • 16-12, 10-10 Big Ten (Seventh)

    How it ended:

    • Kind of painfully. Back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1991 — with the caveat that streak would have ended a season earlier if not for the COVID-19 pandemic — the No. 10 seed Scarlet Knights crumbled late against No. 2 seed Houston and missed out on a Sweet 16 appearance by just three points. That would have been a first for the program since 1979.

    What’s next: Steve Pikiell rescued Rutgers from the Big Ten cellar when he was hired as coach ahead of the 2016-17 season in a repeat of what he accomplished at Stony Brook in the mid-2000s. Rutgers already lost a starter in Myles Johnson (UCLA) and a key rotation piece in Montez Mathis (St. John’s) to the portal. Getting Ron Harper Jr. and Geo Baker

    • back would be huge. So would a leap from a freshman class that was the program’s best in nearly a decade.

    The big question

    • “This is one of the most fascinating offseasons in Rutgers basketball history. There are so many questions heading into the 2021-22 season. How have expectations changed now that RU finally reached the NCAA Tournament? Can it return to March Madness regularly or will this be a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence? And the answer comes in the form of another question, the biggest of the offseason: what the heck will the Scarlet Knights look like in the season opener?

    Rutgers had four players in the transfer portal and two with their name in the NBA draft pool through the first week of April. The Scarlet Knights have many holes to fill and will likely do so through the transfer portal. Who replaces the departures will determine the trajectory of the season.”

    — Brian Fonseca, NJ Advance Media

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

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