The Big East conference consists of 10 schools, and in most sports, each school plays the other at least once, if not twice. If the schools play twice, then the two will play once on their home field/court, and once on the road. That only makes for about half of a team’s games.
What happens to the other half of the season?
Schools such as Seton Hall will fill up the remainder of its schedule, mostly at the beginning of the season, with games featuring schools from other athletic conferences. Popular schools that Seton Hall squares off with are usually in other conferences, such as Rutgers (Big Ten), Rider University (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) and Princeton (Ivy League).
While Seton Hall will largely face out-of-conference schools that are featured in lower-ranked conferences or, Division II or III schools, they will set dates with schools of “power” conferences, or schools that have nationally-known athletics programs. National athletic programs include Notre Dame, Missouri (Southeastern Conference), Indiana (Big Ten) and Cornell (Ivy League).
The non-conference schedules give smaller-market schools a better chance to receive exposure in other parts of the country, and even on a national level. A recent example of that at Seton Hall is men’s basketball. The program has non-conference match ups with Gonzaga, Wichita State and Georgia, and will face Iowa this season in the Big East-Big Ten Challenge.
In other Seton Hall sports that have statistically lower profiles than men’s basketball, the non-conference schedule can have great benefits. It can be a great learning experience among other aspects, as non-conference games can prove to be helpful when it comes to training for games with a conference rival.
Non-conference games are also played in part of early-season tournaments. In women’s volleyball, the Pirates took part in the Seton Hall Classic, which featured George Washington (Atlantic 10), Canisius College (MACC) and Towson University (Colonial Athletic Association). While Seton Hall fell to GWU, the team defeated Canisius on Saturday, as well as Towson, who was undefeated until the Pirates took the contest in four sets.
Men’s and women’s soccer also had some tough non-conference tests early. The teams faced schools such as Army (MACC), Fordham (Atlantic 10), Pennsylvania (Ivy League), and Monmouth (Big South). While not all of these contests have been wins, it has added variety to the schedule and ultimately allows the clubs to grow and learn from teams they may not normally play.
All Big East teams receive a great deal of national attention, and one of the ways it comes is from non-conference games that feature teams from across the country in all divisions of play. For teams such as Seton Hall, it helps them gear up for contests with rival programs that will ultimately decide who comes out on top at the end of the season.