Going out on a limb, it’s safe to say that the Big East front office is well-aware of Seton Hall’s potential this season and handed them a conference schedule to match that ceiling.
For starters: No brutal three-game road stretches. Starting and ending the schedule with two-game home stands. At least three games televised on FOX instead of two. Just one weeknight home game that tips beyond 7pm.
All of the usual gripes seem to have been wiped from the slate. Coincidence? Perhaps.
But probably not.
I wonder if the ever-critical Kevin Willard has anything to gripe about this year.
He won’t have much fuel to do so.
While a double round robin schedule can only be so advantageous, there are a few light negatives that come with the aforementioned road and home stands.
Instead of three- and two-game road trips like last season, the Hall must embark on a trio of two-game trips to compensate, including their usual journey to Butler and Marquette in early January.
And while the Pirates begin and end their slate with consecutive home games for the first time since 1992-93, that will be the only time they do so, making the alternating format of the rest of their schedule perhaps a bit harder to gain momentum.
Regardless of the scheduling ebb and flow, it seems indisputable that the schedule gets a surface-level boost from a year ago, with TV set to follow. Three FOX flagship games with the potential of a fourth (home finale with Butler is TBD) along with one less game on regional FSN stations will surely increase viewership.
On another positive note, the much-maligned late weeknight tips seem a thing of the past with the Hall having just one home game starting beyond 7pm: a late February home clash with Villanova at 8:30.
The perhaps dubious choice by the conference to schedule two of your top teams late in the season at such a time will cause attendance to become a focal point yet again. Will the awkward tip deter Wildcats fans from coming in droves like they did for the weekend matinee this past season? We shall see.
The full schedule along with a few more notes can be found below:
Thurs, 12/28 – Creighton (FS1)
Sun, 12/31 – St. John’s (FS1)
Sat, 1/6 – @Butler (FS1)
Tues, 1/9 – @Marquette (CBSSN)
Sat, 1/13 – Georgetown (FS1)
Wed, 1/17 – @Creighton (FS1)
Sat, 1/20 – Xavier (FOX)
Sun, 1/28 – @DePaul (CBSSN)
Wed, 1/31 – Providence (FS1)
Sun, 2/4 – @Villanova (FOX)
Wed, 2/7 – Marquette (FS1)
Sat, 2/10 – @Georgetown (CBSSN)
Wed, 2/14 – @Xavier (FS1)
Sun, 2/18 – DePaul (FS1)
Wed, 2/21 – @Providence (FS1/FSN)
Sat, 2/24 – @St. John’s MSG (FOX)
Wed, 2/28 – Villanova (FS1)
Sat, 3/3 – Butler (TBD)
Toughest stretch: I’ll go with the four games to close the season. Road tests at Providence and MSG will be tricky, especially with the St. John’s game being on FOX, while Villanova and of course Butler are not the easiest of teams to close out a season with, despite being at home.
Easiest stretch: The Big East is never easy, but I’ll roll with the four game stretch of Marquette, Georgetown, Xavier and DePaul in mid-February. A struggling Hoya team may be going through the motions by then, while home games against two teams projected in the lower third of the conference contrast a tough trip to the Cintas Center.
It’s unfortunate the February 4th road clash with Villanova will be played at Wells Fargo Center due to renovations at the Pavilion. A game televised on FOX with Seton Hall’s best chance to snap their centuries-old losing streak at Nova’s on-campus venue? That thought is enough to wet the appetite, but it won’t happen. Seton Hall will have a chance to break their 15-game road losing streak that dates back to 1994, but it will feel different at Wells Fargo. But different can be good — what if it happens in front of 20,000 instead of 6,500?
Seton Hall gets yet another game against St. John’s at MSG, even later this time around. This one should be treated like a Big East Tournament warm-up, with a feel similar to the gritty nail-biter against the Red Storm two seasons ago.
Like their games against Marquette last year, Seton Hall plays Creighton twice by mid-January. The two schools will also tip off the Big East slate for the second year in a row now. On the opposite end of the schedule, the Hall also closes out with Butler again.
Favorable. Of Seton Hall’s nine home games, five come on the weekend while three of the four during the week tip at 7pm.