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2016-17 Big East conference schedule analysis: Seton Hall Pirates

In order to dethrone Villanova as the supreme rule of the Big East, someone’s gotta trudge through with a relatively unblemished record. Here’s the Seton Hall Pirates’ path.

NCAA Basketball: Seton Hall at Creighton Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, the Seton Hall Pirates enjoyed a season of prosperity that had not been achieved since P.J. Carlesimo was patrolling the sidelines in South Orange. After going a woeful 12-24 through the first two years of the realigned Big East, the Pirates flipped the script and went 12-6, good enough for third place in the conference.

Things will look a little bit different for The Hall this year as star guard Isaiah Whitehead is now suiting up for the Brooklyn Nets across the Hudson River. However, Angel Delgado, Desi Rodriguez and Khadeen Carrington are still hanging around to don the blue and white and some additional role players will be stepping into the fold to try to take down the Villanova Wildcats in their pursuit of a four-peat as Big East regular season champions.

Here’s their path:

at Creighton
at Marquette
at Providence
at Villanova
St. John's
at Xavier
at Georgetown
at St. John's
at DePaul
at Butler

So we see that Seton Hall doesn’t start off in the easiest of ways as they’ll have to travel to Omaha for their conference opener. CenturyLink Center has never been a great place to play for the opposition, so Seton Hall will have to bring their best in order to take down Maurice Watson Jr. and the Creighton Bluejays. From there, they will head back home for a pair of games against Marquette and DePaul. Given the discrepancy in experience between the clubs, the game against MU is pretty winnable for Seton Hall, and in order to avoid a huge hiccup, they had best take down DePaul at home as well.

Their road doesn’t get very enviable from there however. A three-game road trip lies in their future with travels to Milwaukee, Providence and Philadelphia on the horizon. They will have to combat with the Golden Eagles for the second time in three games before heading to the Dunk to tangle with the Friars and then battle with rival Villanova at The Pavilion. Seton Hall has proven to be a thorn in the Wildcats’ side but it’s been three years since anybody was able to beat ‘Nova at The Pavilion, so it’ll be far from easy for SHU to do damage. The best case scenario here is likely to be 2-1 with wins against MU and Providence, but the Friars have proven to be a tough out at home over the years as have the Golden Eagles at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

An improved St. John’s team on paper and a matchup with Butler await Seton Hall after their road ventures are complete. The Red Storm should be better than the team we saw take the floor last season and while the Bulldogs lost a lot of veterans, they still return key players Andrew Chrabascz, Tyler Wideman and the prodigious Kelan Martin who has the chops to lead the conference in scoring. A tough venture against the Xavier Musketeers awaits Seton Hall afterwards.

The Pirates own a two-game win streak over X after a blowout win at home and a victory in the Big East Tournament semifinals a year ago. They’ll have to bring everything and the kitchen sink in order to get a win at Cintas Center to continue that win streak though. Afterwards, they head to Washington D.C. to battle with the Georgetown Hoyas, who haven’t exactly owned much of a home court advantage over the past few years, so that game should prove to be very winnable for The Hall.

Seton Hall will then have the benefit of playing five of their final eight games at The Rock against the aforementioned Friars, Bluejays, Wildcats, Musketeers and Hoyas. They will close the season with road trips to Rosemont and Indianapolis as they take on the Blue Demons and then the Bulldogs in their Big East season finale.

The main takeaway from this schedule is that the Pirates need to claim as many victories as they can throughout the first portion of their schedule. Four of their first six games are on the road and six of their first 10. If they can go 3-3 through those first six road games, with very winnable matchups at home, they could be standing at 7-3 as they enter the back half of their schedule with the comfort of playing in their own backyard. A mark of 6-4 would not be the worst thing either for the Pirates as they would then have a chance to score six more wins to get up to 12 again. They may not have the chops to get up and dethrone Villanova -- who can? -- but a more than respectable run through the conference can get them a high seed in the Big East Tournament and subsequently do enough for them to get back to the NCAA Tournament again.

There’s enough talent, in my estimation, for the Pirates to do that again in the 2016-17 season. But they will have to make the early portion of their slate count.