One week ago, Seton Hall released its non-conference schedule for 2019-20, and it’s looking like an early contender for one of the toughest in the nation.
The Pirates will play at least five power-conference teams, four of which played in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. In total, Seton Hall is guaranteed to play six games against tournament teams from a year ago.
Both of those numbers could increase depending on what happens in the Battle 4 Atlantis. Seton Hall will match up against Oregon in its opening game of the tournament, plus two games against undetermined opponents. The tournament’s field otherwise includes North Carolina, Michigan, Gonzaga, Iowa State, Alabama and Southern Miss, an impressive list of teams that will likely add even more difficulty to Seton Hall’s opening weeks.
Seton Hall will be well acquainted with the Big Ten by the time Big East play rolls around. The Pirates have three Big Ten teams on the schedule, and a potential meeting with Michigan in the Battle 4 Atlantis could mean more.
On Nov. 14, Michigan State, the favorite to win its conference and a serious contender nationally, will come to Newark for Seton Hall’s third game of the season. On Dec. 14, the Pirates stay in New Jersey for the Garden State Classic against Rutgers in Piscataway. Then, five days later, Seton Hall will finish the second half of its home-and-home series with Maryland. The Pirates waltzed into College Park and took a 78-74 victory last December. The Terps should be even better this year when they come to Newark for the return trip.
Other notable games include a definitive date at Iowa State, which could be a rematch if the Battle 4 Atlantis results go the right way, and a trip to Saint Louis to battle the Billikens, who sneaked into the NCAA Tournament last year by winning the A-10 Tournament.
Head coach Kevin Willard is certainly not messing around with his scheduling. The selection committee has made it very clear that creating a tough out-of-conference goes a long way in how you’re perceived come Selection Sunday, and Willard has taken that to heart. Last year, it was big wins the team picked up in the non-conference that were crucial to its at-large bid. Willard is setting his team up to do it again.
The Pirates bring back most of its talent from a team that earned a No. 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament and lost in the first round in a thriller against Wofford. Most importantly, Myles Powell is back, and all college basketball fans should be ecstatic for the opportunity to watch him against this non-conference slate.