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Rutgers set to host Hofstra in NIT First Round



Jan 28, 2023; Charleston, South Carolina, USA; Hofstra Pride guard Aaron Estrada (1) tries to get past Charleston Cougars guard Jaylon Scott (21) in the second half at TD Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers  was named a No. 1 seed in the NIT on Sunday night and will host Hofstra in the first round. The game is scheduled for Tuesday, March 14 at 7:00 p.m. on ESPNU.

Hofstra is coached by program legend Speedy Claxton and features CAA Player of the Year Aaron Estrada. The Pride enter the NIT with a 24-9 record and won the CAA regular season title before getting upset in the semifinals of the conference tournament. The loss to UNC-Wilmington ended a 12 game winning streak.

The Pride own wins over three NCAA Tournament teams in Iona, Charleston and Princeton. They’re worst losses of the season came at home to North Carolina A&T and on a neutral court to UMass.

Estrada averages 20.5 points on 48.8% shooting from the floor including 37.4% from the three-point line. He also averages 5.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Tyler Thomas is another dangerous guard who can light it up from behind the arc. Thomas averages 16.3 points on 49.4% shooting and 41.6% from three. In addition, he averages 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists.

The Pride are No. 90 in KenPom overall including No. 87 in offensive efficiency and No. 103 in defensive efficiency. They’re an excellent shooting team as they make 55.2% (19th nationally) from two-point range and 36.8% from three-point range (42nd). They also defend well in holding opponents to 46.1% from inside the arc (31st) and 30.9% from outside the arc (29th).

The winner of No. 1 Rutgers-Hofstra will play the winner of No. 4 Cincinnati-Virginia Tech. The other half of the region includes matchups between No. 3 New Mexico-Utah Valley and No. 2 Colorado-Seton Hall. The winner of the region will advance to the NIT semifinals in Las Vegas later this month.

While Hofstra has had six days to process their NCAA Tournament dreams coming to an end, Rutgers (19-14) has had just a few hours. The quick turnaround time will be a challenge for the Scarlet Knights. If they can regroup, making a legitimate run at the NIT title would be ideal.

“I want Caleb (McConnell) and Paul (Mulcahy) and the rest of our seniors to play as many games as they can,” head coach Steve Pikiell said on accepting the bid. “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. I’m not apologizing for postseason play here at Rutgers, but obviously our goal in the beginning of the year was the NCAA tournament, but we will have to shift quickly.”

Rutgers is 16-13 all-time in 14 appearances in the NIT. It’s their first appearance since 2006. RU lost in the 2004 title game to Michigan.

For tickets, click below:

Here is the full NIT bracket.

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  1. BataliBoli98

    March 13, 2023 at 1:43 pm

    I think that it will be very interesting to see what the attendance looks like tomorrow. My guess is that there are many fans out there like me who will not miss it on TV but who will also not pay a penny to head out there on a Tuesday evening.

    • Aaron Breitman

      March 13, 2023 at 4:12 pm

      Tickets in the lower level are already sold out. 200s still available.

  2. FlaRef

    March 13, 2023 at 9:00 pm

    Hofstra must be licking their chops waiting for this chance to knock off a Big Ten and number one seed. Let’s keep the third season rolling and win a title as the big fish in a small pond. The championship awaits, don’t let it slip away!

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