The Big East conference released its schedule last week for its inaugural season with just ten teams. InsideTheDawgPound analyzes the Butler Big East conference schedule for the 2013-14 season.
The 2013-14 season will be a challenge as the Bulldogs will be led by new head coach Brandon Miller, will be without their returning leading scorer and rebounder Roosevelt Jones and are initiating six freshman into the Big East. Butler will hold an advantage in one aspect. Each of the Big East opponents, excluding Xavier and Marquette, have not played against Butler in at least a year.
Below InsideTheDawgPound takes a look at the season breaking down each month and rating them on a scale from 1-10, where 1 is the easiest and 10 is the toughest.
12/31 - Villanova 7:30pm FOX Sports 1
Analysis: There is only one game in December for Butler against Villanova. The game is part of the New Year's Eve Big East Kickoff event on Fox Sports 1, where all of the Big East teams will be in action. Butler will be taking on a Villanova program that made the NCAA tournament last season and returns quality pieces in Ryan Arcidiacono and JayVaughn Pinkston. Butler could have been assigned a more difficult game and it is a winnable opener at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
1/4 - @ Xavier 2:00pm FSN National
1/9 - DePaul 7:00pm FOX Sports 1
1/11 - Georgetown 5:00pm FOX Sports 1
1/14 - @ Creighton 9:00pm FOX Sports 1
1/18 - Marquette 2:00pm CBS Sports Network
1/21 - @ Providence 9:00pm FOX Sports 1
1/25 - St. John's 4:00pm FSN National
1/29 - @ Seton Hall 9:00pm FOX Sports 1
Analysis: The beginning of the month is tougher than the end, but includes trips to a couple of the most difficult environments in the Big East in Creighton and Xavier. Butler welcomes DePaul, Seton Hall, and Georgetown to Hinkle. The three game stretch of hosting Georgetown and Marquette with a road test at Creighton will prove to be difficult. The real games that will make or break the month for Butler are the final three including two on the road at Providence and Seton Hall.
2/4 - @ Marquette 9:00pm FOX Sports 1
2/8 - @ Georgetown 1:00pm CBS
2/11 - Xavier 9:00pm FOX Sports 1
2/13 - Creighton 7:00pm CBS Sports Network
2/18 - @ St. John's (MSG) 9:00pm FOX Sports 1
2/23 - Providence 6:00pm FOX Sports 1
2/26 - @ Villanova 8:00pm FOX Sports 1
Analysis: February will definitely be the most difficult month on the 2013-14 schedule. Butler starts the month out by traveling to Marquette and Georgetown and hosting Xavier and Creighton. Crucial games follow as well at Madison Square Garden against St. John's and also in Philadelphia against Villanova. Butler will play six games in primetime during the month of February and a national broadcast game at Georgetown on CBS. It will be the month that sticks into the minds of the tournament committee if Butler is in contention for the NCAA tournament.
3/6 - @ DePaul 7:00pm FOX Sports 1
3/8 - Seton Hall 5:00pm FOX Sports 1
Analysis: The final two games of the conference schedule will take place at the beginning of March as Butler will travel to Chicago to take on DePaul and host Seton Hall. Each team will be picked in the bottom three of the Big East pre-season polls. Butler couldn't have asked for an easier slate to end the year, except if Butler hosted both teams. These final two games could determine a lot as to where Butler finishes in the conference standings. They are extremely important leading into the Big East tournament at MSG.
Overall the conference was fairly generous to Butler. The Bulldogs are able to open the conference schedule at home and also finish at home. The bulk of difficult games are in the middle of the schedule, which will allow for the young Bulldogs to become acclimated to their new conference and gain valuable experience. With the final five games against the middle to lower half of the Big East pre-season rankings, Butler has a chance to gather itself and make a run at a higher seed in the Big East tournament and also take a shot at an NCAA tournament bid.