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Rutgers Fans Excited And Optimistic After Scarlet Knights Beat Clemson Tigers In First Round Of NCAA Tournament

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- March Madness tipped off Friday, bringing a lot of excitement to New Jersey.

It's been a long wait for Rutgers fans. The Scarlet Knights played in the tournament for the first time in three decades, and they won.

Rutgers alumni rallied at Redd's Biergarten in New Brunswick hours before their team took the court Friday night.

"I'm so excited, 9:20, I can't wait," alumnus Duncan Robinson said. "We came here early so we could skip the line and get a table actually."

"We're all vaccinated here, all six of us, so you know, I'm happy to be here," alumnus Justin Miklacki said.

Happy they have their shots, and the Rutgers basketball team has its shot playing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 30 years.

"I think it's the most incredible thing to ever happen for the school in history," alumnus Anthony Dierna said.

The early arrivals made early predictions on the game's outcome.

"Rutgers is a basketball school, I've been saying this ... Rutgers is going at least to Sweet 16, at least, and we're not stopping there," Miklacki said.

The Scarlet Knights call this a two-year journey after making it so close last season before COVID caused the cancelation of the 2020 tournament.

"It's tough, but we came back. We came back strong, had a good record this year," Dierna said.

Fans started the night hopeful for a win for the team -- and local restaurants.

"Even though it's spring break, I think a lot of people are gonna come out and support Rutgers basketball," said Matthew Poznick, owner of Stuff Yer Face.

Ironically, the same day of the big game, New Jersey increased restaurant capacity to 50%, opening up more seats at Redd's.

"Fifty percent is huge for us. That's 122 people, so we're looking to pack the place with all those people. Keep it all separated, keep it all distanced and everyone have a good time to support Rutgers," said Bryan Palsi, of Redd's Biergarten.

And just the outcome they hoped for -- Rutgers beat Clemson 60-56.

"I'm hyped up! We just won the first game of the tournament! This is huge!" one fan said.

As you can imagine, fans are looking forward to the next game.

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