Men's College Basketball

Why Rutgers won’t play Baylor in ‘Jimmy V Classic,’ and what’s next on scheduling front

Rutgers has lost a marquee non-conference matchup due to logistical challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Scarlet Knights are out of the Jimmy V Classic and will not play Baylor in December, a person with knowledge of the situation told NJ Advance Media. The game with the Bears, who are expected to be ranked in the preseason top-5 nationally, no longer made sense of Rutgers after the ESPN-owned event, named after late former Rutgers player and assistant Jim Valvano, was moved from Madison Square Garden to Orlando, Florida.

One of the issues: Rutgers would have needed to spend several days in Florida and undergo several rounds of COVID-19 testing prior to the game, which was initially expected to require a quick bus trip into Manhattan when first agreed upon.

The loss of the game with Baylor means Rutgers’ scheduling outlook is even murkier with about two months to go before the start of the season on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The NCAA will permit teams to play 27 games if they participate in a multi-team event or 25 if they do not. The Big Ten is expected to play a 20-game conference schedule, but there is no sign that will be set anytime soon. And Rutgers cannot work out its non-conference schedule – somewhere between 4-7 games – until it has its league schedule set.

The expectation is Rutgers will stay local for its non-conference games with the possible exception of its Big Ten-ACC Challenge matchup. Rutgers was set to hold its own MTE with Central Connecticut, Holy Cross and Miami of Ohio before the pandemic, but the status of those games is up in the air. It is also unknown if the Big Ten-Big East Gavitt Games will be held this season, although some reports have indicated it is unlikely.

Rutgers also had a season-opening home game against Merrimack and a road game at UMass scheduled before the pandemic. The Scarlet Knights and Seton Hall have mutual interest in playing their annual rivalry game, which is set for the Prudential Center in Newark this season. But the Big Ten and Big East schedules need to be sorted out before the teams can confirm the game.

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