Here's another installment in the series looking at non-league schedules of conference teams.
Up now, Fairfield ...
The Stags will play home games in the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Conn., on Nov. 23 (St. Joseph's), Dec. 7 (Howard) and Dec. 20 (Vermont), will host a BracketBusters' game on Feb. 19, and are looking to fill one more home date.
Fairfield will play on the road on Nov. 13 (at Sacred Heart), Nov. 15 (at Rutgers), Nov. 19 (at Penn State), Nov. 26 (vs. Norfolk State at the Palestra in Philadelphia), Dec. 2 (at Savannah State), Dec. 12 (at Holy Cross) and Dec. 29 (at Florida).
Here's a game-by-game look at Fairfield's non-conference opponents:
- Sacred Heart: Picked for 10th in the 12-team Northeast Conference. Finished 14-15 last season. Best player: Senior point guard Jerrell Thompson (4.6 assists per game), 6-9 senior center Mehmet Sahan (4.3 rebounds). Coach Dave Bike is entering his 33rd season at the school, but the team's top four scorers from last season graduated.
- Rutgers: Picked for 14th in the 16-team Big East Conference. Finished 15-17 last season. Best player: 6-7 senior forward Jonathan Mitchell (11.8 points). The Scarlet Knights have never had a winning conference record in 15 seasons in the Big East.
- Penn State: Picked for 7th in the 11-team Big Ten Conference. Finished 11-20 last season. Best player: 6-0 senior guard Talor Battle (18.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists). Battle should join 1950s-era player Jesse Arnelle as the program's only players to lead the Nittany Lions in scoring for four straight seasons.
- St. Joseph's: Picked for 10th in the 14-team Atlantic 10 Conference. Finished 11-20 last season. Best player: 6-7 junior forward Idris Hilliard (11.2 points, 5.4 rebounds).
- Norfolk State: Picked for 2nd in the 11-team Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Finished 11-19 last season. Best player: guard Rob Hampton (12.4 points, 4.4 rebounds), center Kyle Quinn (11.5, 8.6).
- Savannah State: An independent program previously, it joins the MEAC this season as a provisional member. Finished 11-15 last season. Best player: guard Tracy Rankins (13.0 points).
- Howard: Picked for 7th in the 11-team MEAC. Finished 7-25 last season. Best player: forward Calvin Thompson (12.0 points, 5.1 rebounds).
- Holy Cross: Picked for 3rd in the 8-team Patriot League. Finished 9-22 last season. Best players; 6-3 junior guard R.J. Evans (13.4, 5.1), 6-9 senior center Andrew Keister (10.2, 8.9). Keister led the Patriot League in rebounding last season.
-Vermont: Picked for 4th in the 9-team America East Conference. The Catamounts won the conference last season and finished 25-10 overall. Top Player: Evan Fjed, a 6-foot-8 senior forward (10.7 points, 6.1 rebounds per game last season). He is the team's only returning starter.
- Florida: Picked for 2nd in the 6-team East Division of the Southeast Conference. Finished 21-13 last season. Best player: 5-8 junior guard Erving Walker (10.1 points, 4.2 assists), 6-9 senior forward Chandler Parsons (12.4 points, 6.9 rebounds). The Gators won national championships in 2006 and '07. Florida's coaching staff includes former Siena head coach Rob Lanier, who is an assistant with the Gators.