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Seton Hall Basketball: JP's 5 Thoughts: The Schedule Edition

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Well, the Big East finally released their conference schedule for all 16 teams on Wednesday. Here are my 5 thoughts:

1. BRUTAL opening stretch

The Pirates open up at Syracuse for the second time in four years, then have to come home to play West Virginia (their only appearance on ESPN's main networks all year) and their nemesis and defending national champions UConn (albeit a Calhoun-less UConn thanks to suspension). Going from a road game at Longwood to those three doesn't help matters. The freshmen who are expected to contribute for the Hall this year will be thrown into the fire right away. Of those three, West Virginia will be the easiest to deal with because a) they are also a very young team, and b) the game is at home, so the young guys will be eager to lace 'em up, while the young Mountaineers may have difficulty at the Rock.

2. Relief

In the form of a three-game stretch vs Providence (road), DePaul (home), and USF (road) following that opening gauntlet. These three games should all be wins for Seton Hall, but as we all know, no one in the Big East can be taken lightly (toughest game here will be USF on the road).

3. So Many Road Games

Conference play is not kind to the Pirates at the start, with 7 of the first 12 games away from home (and 9 of 14 away counting the last two non-conference games vs Dayton and Longwood). Of the last 6 games, however, 4 are at home, and the Pirates have a good-to-very good shot at taking 4 of those last 6 (vs Pitt, vs St. John's, @ Cincinnati, vs Georgetown, vs Rutgers, @ DePaul)

4. Rough Mid-season stretch

After the aforementioned 3-game relief stretch, the Pirates have two games (@ Villanova, vs ND) that could bounce either way (both teams are expected to be middle of the pack teams this year). But after that, Rick Pitino and Louisville (expected to be top-4) come to the Rock, followed by a rough 3-game road trip to Marquette (always tough at home), UConn (haven't beaten them in almost 12 years), and Rutgers (rivalry game). That will be one bumpy ride through the end of January, one where the Pirates will need all the game they can muster.

5. Rutgers and ESPNU

Both Rutgers games are going to be televised on ESPNU, which is a nice bit of exposure for the rivalry that is heating up again. The road game is first for Seton Hall, for a change, while the home game is a Saturday evening. Expect the crowd to be raucous for that one. Also, both games are in February, meaning both should be big when it comes to the standings.

5.2 The UConn Hex Watch

Yeah, it's technically a 6th thought, but the UConn Hex now stands at 11 years and counting. The Pirates very nearly (and should have) knocked off the eventual national champs last year at the Rock, and they'll get two shots this year to end the streak. It's unfortunate that the home game is so early in the Big East schedule, but UConn will be without Jim Calhoun. The road game may be the toughest game of the season for the Pirates, so if they're going to pull off the huge upset, it would be January 3rd rather than February 4th.

Buckle up, Pirate fans! It's never too early to be excited for basketball season. And watch for JP's full Big East Preview in the coming days. It will be presented in 4 parts for your reading pleasure. Continue to follow South Orange Juice for all the Seton Hall Basketball news and analysis you could possibly handle, and more!