The 2010-11 UConn Huskies were improbable conference and national champions but that doesn't make them any less deserving or the trophies any less real. And while the offseason has been a series of ups and down (downs early: NCAA sanctions resulting for poor academic performances, Jamal Coombs-McDaniels' transfer; and ups recently: recruiting successes, improvements from the younger players, and the likely return of Jim Calhoun), we now have a much better picture of what this season's squad will have to do to defend their titles.
That's right: the Big East has released the 2011-2012 matchups.
First, the highlights, via the press release:
Thanks to the NCAA-record 11 Big East teams that played in the 2011 NCAA Championship, this year’s schedule includes an unprecedented 131 games – or 91 percent of the conference ledger – that will feature at least one NCAA tournament team from last year. Sixty-seven games – 47 percent of the schedule – will be between two of the conference’ s NCAA tournament teams. …
The conference schedule will once again include 144 regular-season games as each of the BIG EAST’s 16 teams plays 18 conference games. Each team will face 12 opponents once and three opponents twice. All 144 regular-season conference games will again be televised, either by CBS Sports, the ESPN family of networks or ESPN Regional Television.
The presser explains that the decision to have teams face three opponents twice is "based on natural interest, geography, rivalries, television contractual obligations and competitive balance."
As for our purposes here, the three teams the Huskies will face twice include Notre Dame, Seton Hall and Syracuse.
Last season, UConn twice played Notre Dame, Louisville and Marquette during the regular season. The Huskies were 1-5 in those match-ups. Against Notre Dame, Seton Hall and Syracuse (including the Big East Tournament), UConn was 2-2.
The Big East announced that the full 2011-12 conference schedule will be announced at a later date, but the Huskies will face the following teams: