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2010-11 Schedule Released: Reaction from JP

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It's official- the 2010-11 schedule for Seton Hall Men's Basketball has been released. Without further ado, here it is!

(Home games are capitalized; all times and networks, except those shown are TBD)

Fri., Nov. 12, at Temple

Sun., Nov. 14, CORNELL

Fri., Nov. 19, vs. Alabama ^

Sat/Sun, Nov. 20/21, vs. Iowa or Xavier ^

Mon., Nov. 22, vs. TBD ^

Mon., Nov. 29, SAINT PETER’S

Wed., Dec. 8, vs. Arkansas # (7 PM, ESPN2)

Sat., Dec. 11, at Massachusetts

Mon., Dec. 13, LONGWOOD

Sun., Dec. 19, NJIT

Wed., Dec. 22, DAYTON

Sun., Dec. 26, RICHMOND

Tue., Dec. 28, USF*

Fri., Dec. 31, at Cincinnati* (8 PM, ESPN2)

Wed, Jan. 5, at Louisville* (7 PM, ESPNU)

Sat., Jan. 8, SYRACUSE*

Wed., Jan. 12, at DePaul*

Sat., Jan. 15, at Pittsburgh*

Tue., Jan. 18, GEORGETOWN*

Sat., Jan. 22, RUTGERS*

Tue., Jan. 25, at Syracuse*

Sun., Jan. 30, PROVIDENCE*

Wed., Feb. 2, at West Virginia*

Sat., Feb. 5, CONNECTICUT* (7 PM, ESPNU)

Sat., Feb. 12, at Rutgers* (7 PM, ESPNU)

Tue., Feb. 15, VILLANOVA*

Sat., Feb. 19, at Marquette*

Sat., Feb. 26, at Notre Dame* (ESPNU)

Thu., Mar. 3, ST. JOHN’S* (7 PM, ESPN/ESPN2)

Sat., Mar. 5, MARQUETTE*

Tue.-Sat., Mar. 8-12, at BIG EAST Championship

(^ = Paradise Jam, US Virgin Islands)

(* = Big East game)

(# = SEC/Big East Invitational at Louisville, KY)

ANALYSIS: This schedule is stellar.

One of the biggest complaints at this time last year was how many "cupcakes" the Pirates had on their schedule. Well, there are still a couple of cupcakes (Longwood, NJIT- I'm looking at you), but the non-conference schedule otherwise is 150 percent better than last year's AT LEAST.

The Pirates open the year on November 12th on the road against the 3-time defending A-10 champs, the Temple Owls, throwing Coach Willard into the fire immediately. The home opener is two days later against defending Ivy League champion Cornell before heading off the St. Thomas for the Paradise Jam. There, they'll play Alabama and either Iowa or Xavier for sure, with their 3rd game TBD from a group including Clemson, Old Dominon, St. Peter's and Long Beach State.

After that, they host St. Peter's before heading to Louisville to take on Arkansas at Freedom Hall in the SEC/Big East Invitational. After a sojourn up to UMass, they have 5 straight home games, including the aforementioned cupcakes, plus two MORE A-10 foes in Dayton and Richmond. They open Big East play at home against USF on the 28th of December.

Here are some thoughts:

- SHU vs the Atlantic-10

You're not seeing things. Seton Hall is definitely playing 4, and could face a whopping FIVE A-10 teams in their non-conference schedule. But these aren't your St. Bonaventures and Charlottes of the world. These are 3 (and maybe 4) of the top-5 teams in the conference. Especially juicy is the fact that they play Dayton and Richmond in back-to-back games. Both of them were NCAA Tournament teams last season, and Dayton (the NIT champion, by the way) should be in the Big Dance this year. Richmond was the last team scheduled, showing that the Hall is serious about making the NCAA Tournament this year.

- Cupcakes? We don't need no stinkin' cupcakes!

Last season, the Pirates took a lot of heat for scheduling a soft OOC schedule. That is definitely not the case this year, as they play 2 SEC schools in addition to the A-10 schools already mentioned. Saint Peter's might be one of the top teams in the MAAC, and the teams in the other half of the Paradise Jam draw are no slouches.

(By the way, if both teams make it to the championship game- or if both lose in the first round- Seton Hall and Saint Peter's could be playing each other twice in two weeks this season. Wouldn't that be something?)

- UConn Hex Broken?

If there was ever a year to finally beat UConn, it's this one. The Huskies have talent, but over half the team is underclassmen. The Hall, meanwhile, returns almost everyone. Plus, the game is at home. Is this the year that the Pirates finally break through? We'll soon find out.

- Why so many ESPNU games?

Last season, there were many Seton Hall games on ESPN/ESPN2. This year? Not so many- only 3 dates on national TV (so far), with several more dates than usual on ESPNU. Last season, you could say that there was a ton more hype around the program, much of it Gonzo-driven. That, plus 3 transfers made Seton Hall one of the interesting teams. With hype comes TV appearances, and the Pirates don't have as much this year. The games that Seton Hall does play on the major ESPN networks, however, are big ones with the possible exception of Cincinnati. Arkansas is a quality opponent, and the St. John's game at the end of the season should be great.

- Big East notes

The great thing about the Pirates' Big East slate is that the first three games (vs USF, @Cincy, @Louisville) are all very winnable. The bad news is that 4 of the first 6 games are on the road (with the other home game being against Syracuse), and if we know anything, it's that winning on the road in the Big East is always harder than it seems. With the exception of DePaul, those games are huge tests for a rookie coach with a fairly young bench. It will be trial-by-fire for the freshmen and for Coach Willard. If they emerge from it well, they'll have boatloads of confidence. If they don't... well, we'll just not think about that right now.

But the flip side of that is this- after the Syracuse and Georgetown home games, the rest of the home schedule is pretty favorable (with the one exception being Villanova). On paper, it means that the Pirates should take care of business at home. That will mean that they can focus on the tough road games down the stretch (@West Virginia, @Syracuse, @Marquette, @Notre Dame) even more.

Of course, this is all just on paper. In reality, it won't be that simple. It never is that simple in the Big East.

But unlike last year, if the Pirates can manage 20 wins with this schedule, I can't see a reason why they wouldn't be dancing in March.

Circle November 12th on your calendars, Pirate fans- that's the day that life begins again.