Regardless of its seed, Rutgers is no stranger to feeling like a true visitor in the NCAA tournament.
That won't change in the second round of the Greensboro Regional when the second-seeded Scarlet Knights face No. 7 seed Iowa State on Monday night in Des Moines, Iowa, just 35 miles from the Cyclones' campus.
Monday's contest will be the sixth time in its seven most recent NCAA tournament appearances that Rutgers (25-6) will play a team on its home court or in the state where the opposing school is located.
On their way to a national runner-up finish last season, the fourth-seeded Scarlet Knights beat No. 5 Michigan State 70-57 in East Lansing, Mich., during the second round.
This time, Rutgers' road to a fourth consecutive appearance in the round of 16, will be blocked by Iowa State (21-12), which drew over 9,000 fans in a 58-55 victory over 10th-seeded Georgia Tech in a first-round game Saturday in Des Moines.
"It is special. It felt like a home game out there," Cyclones guard Heather Ezell said. "It shows how committed our fans are."
Though her team will again have to play in a road-like atmosphere on a neutral court, Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer is just hoping it can build off a resounding 85-42 first-round win over 15th-seeded Robert Morris on Saturday.
"We have been struggling a bit, even in wins. I thought that we just looked like we had a great feel for each other," said Stringer, whose team lost two in a row for the first time this season heading into the NCAA tournament. "We have been focusing on a lot of things since we were ousted in the Big East tournament."
Kia Vaughn recorded her 22nd career double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds, while Epiphanny Prince added 21 points as the Scarlet Knights opened with a 15-2 run and registered their highest point total of the season in their most lopsided victory of 2007-08.
"I think it was vital that we came out strong," Rutgers guard Matee Ajavon said. "We needed to send a statement that we are in control of the game."
Rutgers, which shot 44 percent during the season, shot 54.8 Saturday while outscoring Robert Morris 40-8 in the paint.
The Scarlet Knights will face Iowa State for just the second time Monday. Rutgers beat the Cyclones 62-61 in the second round of the 1998 NCAA tournament.
Iowa State trailed by four at halftime in its first-round contest Saturday, but came through after shooting 50 percent in the second half to advance to the second round for a second straight season.
Leading scorer Alison Lacey was held to nine points, but scored the Cyclones' final four to secure the victory over Georgia Tech.
"(Saturday) was a microcosm of our season," Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. "We don't look fancy, but we get the job done."
Kelsey Bolte went 5-for-8 from 3-point range and finished with 19 points for the Cyclones, who last reached the regional semifinals in 2002.
"Iowa State is a great team," Rutgers guard Brittany Ray said. "They wouldn't be here if they weren't. I'm expecting a great game. We're just looking forward to the next 40 minutes."
The winner of this contest will face either third-seeded California or No. 6 seed George Washington in a regional semifinal contest next Sunday in Greensboro, N.C.