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No. 7 Clemson vs. No. 10 Rutgers preview, picks for first round of 2021 NCAA Tournament

The Clemson Tigers and Rutgers Scarlet Knights meet at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. We’ve got everything you need on both teams ahead of the game here.

Aamir Simms #25 of the Clemson Tigers attempts a shot during the first half of their second round game against the Miami Hurricanes in the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum on March 10, 2021 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Update March 19: Here are the updated bet splits for No. 7 Clemson vs. No. 10 Rutgers as of March 19th at 7 a.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

Rutgers: -2: 79% of action, 60% of bets
Clemson: +2: 21% of action, 40% of bets

Over 125.5: 44% of action, 65% of bets
Under 125.5: 56% of action, 35% of bets


Update March 18: Here are the updated bet splits for Clemson vs. Rutgers as of March 18th at 1:30 p.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

Clemson +2: 19% of handle, 30% of bets
Rutgers -2: 81% of handle, 70% of bets
Over 125.5: 39% of handle, 57% of bets
Under 125.5: 61% of handle, 43% of bets


The Clemson Tigers’ up and down season landed them a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament with a first round matchup with the 10th-seeded Rutgers Scarlet Knights, making their first March Madness appearance since 1991. This game will tip off at 9:20 p.m. ET on Friday, March 19th from Bankers Life Fieldhouse and can be seen on TBS.

No. 7 Clemson: 16-7 (10-6 ACC): At-large

KenPom rating: 42 Overall, 99 Offense, 20 Defense
NET ranking: 41, (3-6 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Aamir Simms
Key stat: Aamir Simms leads Clemson in points (13.3), rebounds (6.2) assists (2.7) and blocks (0.7) per game.

Clemson hit a rough stretch in the middle of their season when they were consistently getting blown out after pausing for COVID-19, but they managed to recover for a decent NCAA Tournament seed. They slow down the game and allow just 62 points per game, the second lowest in the ACC. Offensively, the Tigers shoot 42.8% from the floor, which is 12th in the conference.

Watch for Clemson to step out and shoot more 3-pointers than usual as Rutgers does a good job defending at the rim.

No. 10 Rutgers: 15-11 (10-10 Big Ten): At-large

KenPom rating: 34 Overall, 75 Offense, 18 Defense
NET ranking: 38 (4-9 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Ron Harper Jr.
Key stat: Rutgers ranks ninth in the country with 5.9 blocked shots per game.

Much like Clemson, Rutgers is much better on the defensive end of the floor than offense, and the Scarlet Knights really struggle to shoot the ball. They rank No. 13 in the Big Ten in three-point percentage and dead last in free throw percentage. Defensively, Rutgers allows the fourth lowest three-point shooting percentage in the Big Ten.

Watch for senior guard Geo Baker to have a big performance. He’s logged a ton of minutes in each of his four years at Rutgers, and he finally gets a shot in the NCAA Tournament.

March Madness Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Point Spread: Rutgers -1
Total: 125.5
Moneyline: Rutgers -120, Clemson +100

The Pick

Against The Spread Pick: Rutgers -1
Point total pick: Under 125.5
Pick to Win: Rutgers

Oddsmakers are going with the lower-seeded team as the favorites, and they’re right to do so because Rutgers will win this game. The Scarlet Knights have been ready for this moment ever since last year when they were set to be a tournament team. Both teams play rather slow style especially Clemson and play well enough on the defensive end that we’re going to go with the under even with a low total.