ESPN expected to move ‘Jimmy V Classic’ to Orlando | What it could mean for Rutgers

It sounds like Rutgers’ marquee non-conference game is headed south.

Will the Scarlet Knights follow?

ESPN is reporting ESPN is expected to move the Jimmy V Classic, and most of its other early-season college basketball events, to Orlando, Florida, amid the coronavirus pandemic. NJ Advance Media reported in May that Rutgers had agreed to play Baylor, which is expected to be a preseason top-5 team, in the Jimmy V Classic, which is held annually at Madison Square Garden. Gonzaga and Tennessee were set to play in the doubleheader’s other game.

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Steve Pikiell and his team are not booked for Disney World yet, though. While the matchup with Baylor has been reported in many places, including now on ESPN.com, the game was never officially announced. Moreover, the makeup of the Scarlet Knights’ schedule remains very much in the air as college hoops moves toward its return from COVID-19.

The NCAA recently set a Nov. 25 start date for the men’s and women’s basketball seasons and changed the maximum number of games a team can play to 24 games plus a multi-team event or 25 without one. If the Big Ten sticks with its 20-game conference schedule, Rutgers will only have so many non-conference dates to play.

The annual rivalry series with Seton Hall figures to take priority for Rutgers, as well as an anticipated Big Ten-ACC Challenge game. There is also the potential for a Gavitt Games matchup against a Big East team, although the status of that event is in doubt. In other words, it’s possible Rutgers could have to pass on the Baylor game in order to make the rest of its schedule work, although the opportunity the matchup provides, as well as the fact Seton Hall could also be in Orlando for its own event, the Charleston Classic, could make the decision easier.

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James Kratch may be reached at jkratch@njadvancemedia.com. Tell us your coronavirus story or send a tip here.

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