Five Takeaways: Seton Hall releases blockbuster non-conference schedule

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Suspense is building at a rapid pace in the lead up to a much-hyped Seton Hall season and today’s release of what could turn out to be their strongest non-conference schedule in decades leaves plenty to talk about. 

  • Two games at Walsh before opening up the Prudential Center against Michigan State is an interesting approach and a bit unique, since Kevin Willard has typically played one non-exhibition game at Walsh instead of two; Seton Hall will also play two October exhibitions at Walsh. I’m positive the team will get some practice reps at the Rock ahead of time to re-acclimate to its sight lines, but playing a game in front of a much larger crowd is a different beast, especially the preseason national title favorites.
  • With an already loaded schedule, it seems the staff padded their remaining vacancies with Florida A&M (KenPom 318) and Prairie View A&M (KenPom 209), although the latter did make the N.C.A.A. tournament as a 16-seed last season with four seniors in their main rotation. The games come as a warm-up for the Thanksgiving trip to the Bahamas as well as a transition into the Big East season just before Christmas.
  • As far as recurring opponents go, the trip to Saint Louis closes out a home-and-home that started in Newark last year, Wagner will visit for the fourth time in five seasons, Maryland visits Newark to complete a home-and-home series, and of course the sixth edition in a 10-year series with Rutgers reverts back to the RAC. Notably, Saint Peter’s and Shaheen Holloway remain off the schedule for the third time in the past four years.
  • Here is how I would rank the known opponents in terms of how tough the games will be. Facing Gonzaga in the second round of the Battle 4 Atlantis would obviously rival Michigan State as the toughest opponent not just in the non-conference, but all season long.
  1. Michigan State (KP: 3)
  2. Maryland  (24)
  3. @Iowa State (15)
  4. @Rutgers (78)
  5. Oregon (28)
  6. @Saint Louis (106)
  7. Stony Brook (166)
  8. Prairie View A&M (209)
  9. Wagner (314)
  10. Florida A&M (318)
  • Even though the toughness of this schedule is almost overlooked because we’ve known how strong it was going to be for so long, it’s worth repeating that the schedule looks likely to be Seton Hall’s strongest slate in the KenPom era (2001-2). The only other top-100 KenPom non-conference schedules are listed below 2018-19: 68th 2010-11: 73rd
  • Bonus sixth talking point: Along with toughness comes national exposure and coverage. Michigan State and Maryland’s trips to Newark will surely be on every list of “must watch non-conference match-ups” and the former should be a candidate to air on FOX’s flagship channel while the Iowa State road game will be covered by ESPN’s network in some capacity. Last but not least, the Battle 4 Atlantis is widely considered the toughest non-conference tournament and all of Seton Hall’s games will be on ESPN or ESPN2 against big national names if they avoid a first round loss to Oregon. On the flip-side, Oregon’s late 9:30 ET tip on the night before Thanksgiving and a hypothetical 9 ET tip against Gonzaga on Thanksgiving could have fallen on better date/time slots, although I’ll defer to the TV numbers experts who earn a living doing this sort of thing. Throw in some national player of the year candidate seasoning in Myles Powell and Seton Hall can easily become a tasty household name this season.