by Dan GardellaFollow @gardelladan
While there is still speculation surrounding the college basketball world, one issue that the pandemic has created is the possible changing of non-conference schedules.
As a result of COVID-19, there will likely be recommendations to have teams schedule games that are a bus ride away while trying to stay away from flights and games against teams across the country.
For mid-major programs, this can be a bit of an issue. For a team like Sacred Heart, this opens the door for a chance to light a fire in Connecticut college basketball and schedule games against in-state rivals.
Years ago, the Division I teams in the state would participate in the “Connecticut 6” classic, facing off against some of the other teams in the state. The classic was last played in the 2015-16 season. There’s no better time to renew this or play something similar to it.
Last season, Sacred Heart played UConn, Quinnipiac, and Hartford, games that allowed both fanbases to attend and enjoy. They also played conference foe Central Connecticut twice.
So why not schedule more?
“I joked with John [Gallagher] that we have one more year left in the contract when all of these guys are juniors and seniors,” said Anthony Latina following the Pioneers’ win against Hartford on Dec. 8.
As of now, the only games announced in Sacred Heart’s non-conference schedule are Providence, St. John’s, and UMass, all on the road. All of the games are three hours or less from Fairfield. While it hasn’t been announced, Hartford will likely be included as well.
There has already been speculation that the Pioneers’ matchup with Providence could be moved out of the Dunkin Donuts Center to either an on-campus gym, or Mohegan Sun Arena, just a hour away from Sacred Heart’s campus.
Sacred Heart hasn’t played Yale since 2015. The Bulldogs have since proved to be a contender in the Ivy League year after year.
They haven’t played Fairfield since 2016.
With Fairfield having to play all of their home games at Webster Bank Arena as Alumni Hall goes under construction, what a better way to bring the town together than a women’s/men’s doubleheader between the two schools.
Now so more than ever, it makes sense to stay in-state for non-conference play. The competition is filled with NCAA Tournament-hopeful teams with statewide bragging rights on the line.