Seton Hall’s 2018-19 Big East schedule presents new challenges for a young team

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Seton Hall’s 2018-19 schedule has been etched in stone with the release of their complete Big East schedule on Friday.

This time last year, the vibe was that the Hall had been handed a favorable conference lineup compared to seasons past.

Looking back at that schedule, Seton Hall managed what I labeled as their toughest stretch pretty well, while they botched their mid-February sequence of games which appeared the easiest on paper. 

This time around, a young Hall team will face an arguably tougher schedule that includes three bye weeks, four of their first six games away from home, two potential games on FOX, and attractive book-end games to start and end their conference season.

Full schedule with observations below:
(All times eastern, home games in bold)

Sat, 12/29 – St. John’s (FSN, 8:30)
Wed, 1/2 – @Xavier (FS1, 6:30)
Sun, 1/6 – @DePaul (FS1, TBD)
Wed, 1/9 – Butler (FS1, 8:30)
Sat, 1/12 – @Marquette (FS1, 2:00)
Tue, 1/15 – @Providence (FS1, 6:30)
Sat, 1/19 – DePaul (FS1, 8:30)
*bye week*
Sun, 1/27 – @Villanova (FOX, 2:30)
Wed, 1/30 – Providence (FSN, 7:00)
Sat, 2/2 – @Butler (FS1, Noon)
*bye week*
Sat, 2/9 – Creighton (CBSSN, 8:00)
Wed, 2/13 – Georgetown (FS1, 8:30)
Sun, 2/17 – @Creighton (FS1, 3:00)
Wed, 2/20 – Xavier (CBSSN, 7:00)
Sat, 2/23 – @St. John’s (FS1, 8:00)
*bye week*
Sat, 3/2 – @Georgetown (CBSSN, 6:30)
Wed, 3/6 – Marquette (FS1, 6:30)
Sat, 3/9 – Villanova (TBD)

Toughest stretch:

Considering Seton Hall’s drop in seniority this season, the overall start to the Big East schedule in January looks like it could come with a steep learning curve. The Pirates will log six games in 18 days including four road games and the first conference mid-west trip for most of the team. 

Kevin Willard always harps on getting time in the gym to teach and correct, but this young team won’t get much of that until what may turn into an oasis-like bye week later in the month. The week off will be refreshing but it will come to an abrupt stop with a road trip to Villanova.

Easiest stretch:

It’s never easy in the Big East, but Seton Hall’s second bye week yields home games against Creighton and Georgetown — who both seem likely to finish in the conference’s bottom third — prior to a return trip to Omaha and a home clash with re-tooling Xavier. This stretch would have easily been labeled the toughest a season or three ago, but early February may see the clouds part a bit for this team.

Observations:

>> Nearly half (8) of Seton Hall’s conference schedule falls on a Saturday while they also play on Sunday three times. 

>> In contrast to the last stat, this year’s Big East schedule has a fresh set of late-night tips at the Rock after having just one (Villanova) last year. Of the eight home games which have tip times decided upon, five of them start at 8pm or later including 8:30 Wednesday tips against Georgetown and Butler. Get your coffee ready.

>> Seton Hall began and ended their schedule last season with home games for the first time since the early 90s and they will do so again this year. A juicy meeting with hyped St. John’s starts conference play off and a potential FOX game against Villanova caps off the slate. Doesn’t get much better than that.

>> The Hall played on FOX three times last season during conference play compared to one (@Villanova) this year with the season finale against the Wildcats potentially getting picked up by network’s flagship station … Unlike last year, the Pirates will play on FOX twice before league play (Louisville, Kentucky) compared to once last season (VCU) … The Pirates will play two games (St. John’s, Providence) on Fox Sports Network (MSG locally) compared to one game last year … Three games will be aired on CBS Sports Network, which matches last season’s count.

This schedule sets Seton Hall up for what might be a late-season post-season push after trial by fire during January. If Kevin Willard and some of his more veteran players like Myles Powell, Mike Nzei, and Quincy McKnight can circle the wagons and prevent extended losing streaks before January 20th, that should turn into a decent barometer for what is to come over the second and third legs of their schedule.

Early struggles could predict an overall rough season or a late-season turnaround, while success during the first half of January may roughly parallel 2014-15 when Seton Hall’s young 2014 recruiting class got off to a hot start in Big East play.

What’s indisputable is that Seton Hall’s season is about a month and a half away — and that’s a great thing.