Rutgers, Seton Hall Could Still Play in Hoops

Rutgers is now officially headed to the Big Ten Conference, but Rutgers and Seton Hall could still play an annual tilt in New Jersey after the Scarlet Knights depart in 2014.

“No question. It’s a state rivalry, the fans enjoy it, it has tradition to it. I’d love to continue that,” Rutgers coach Mike Rice told Jerry Carino of Gannett New Jersey. “We’ll talk between both athletic departments and coaches to figure it out. I’d like to get the same date every year and switch (the site) back and forth so there’s no haggling about the date or the place.”

Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard also said he’d like to play the game.

“I think it would be a great game toward the new year,” Willard told Carino.

The two schools play each other twice a year in Big East play now, and Carino suggested that could still happen once Rutgers leaves.

“You still have a rivalry, you still have two passionate fan bases that don’t like the other school,” Rice said. “That stuff’s not going to change.”

As far as recruiting, Rutgers has drawn several players from the DMV area, including Wally Judge, Jerome Seagears and Malick Kone, so the fact that Maryland is also joining the Big Ten could help the Scarlet Knights as well. They can pitch to recruits that they will now play games at Maryland in the Big Ten.

“Recruits first go to the university, and I don’t see the Big Ten not selling because of the level of basketball programs that they have in that league,” Rice said. “I think adding Maryland helps us carve some of the Eastern seaboard into the Big Ten. The DC-Baltimore area has been a hotbed for talent.”

The Big East has 15 basketball teams this year and will have 18 next year once Memphis, Temple, SMU, Houston and UCF join.

Once Rutgers leaves the Big East will be down to 17 schools. The league could still lose either UConn or Louisville to the ACC, bringing it down to 16.

“Although we are disappointed that Rutgers has decided to leave the Big East Conference, we wish them well,” Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. “They have been a valued member of the Conference for many years.

“We realize that conference realignment is currently a fact of life in college sports. In the context of this realignment, changes in our membership have been taking place, including important additions. In fact, the Big East has expanded its scope with new members in California, Texas, Florida, Idaho, Tennessee and Pennsylvania. As a result, the Big East has created a unique national football conference that is a factor in the BCS Championship, remains the nation’s strongest basketball conference top to bottom, and is a major force across the full spectrum of men’s and women’s college sports. We remain committed to, and confident in, the continued growth and vitality of the Big East Conference.”

**For more with Mike Rice, check out Matt Sugam’s interview here.

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