UConn men open league slate vs. Providence as Big East releases 2021-22 schedule

Photo of David Borges
UConn and coach Dan Hurley will open Big East play on Dec. 18 at home against Providence.

UConn and coach Dan Hurley will open Big East play on Dec. 18 at home against Providence.

David Butler II / Associated Press

UConn’s first Big East game in front of fans since its return to the league last year will be against an old, local rival.

The Huskies will kick off their 2021-22 Big East slate on Dec. 18 at home against Providence and wrap things up at home on March 5 against DePaul. In between will be the Huskies’ first foray into a full Big East slate since 2012-13. The Huskies were limited to 17 league games last season due to COVID-related cancellations, etc.

A few games of note: UConn’s road games at Villanova and St. John’s will be played at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia and New York’s Madison Square Garden, respectively. Villanova, the consensus pick to win the Big East this season, doesn’t come to town until Feb. 22.

The Huskies’ Jan. 12 home game vs. St. John’s marks a sort of homecoming for Stamford’s Aaron Wheeler, who played the past four seasons at Purdue but is now with the Red Storm as a grad transfer.

Times and sites of UConn’s home games have yet to be determined, but here are the dates of UConn’s Big East schedule:

Saturday, Dec. 18 vs. Providence

Tuesday, Dec. 21 at Marquette

Tuesday, Dec. 28 at Xavier

Saturday, Jan. 1 vs. Butler

Saturday, Jan. 8 at Seton Hall

Wednesday, Jan. 12 vs. St. John’s

Saturday, Jan. 15 at Providence

Thursday, Jan. 20 at Butler

Tuesday, Jan. 25 vs. Georgetown

Saturday, Jan. 29 at DePaul

Tuesday, Feb. 1 vs. Creighton

Saturday, Feb. 5 at Villanova (Wells Fargo Center)

Tuesday, Feb. 8 vs. Marquette

Sunday, Feb. 13 at St. John’s (Madison Square Garden)

Wednesday, Feb. 16 vs. Seton Hall

Saturday, Feb. 19 vs. Xavier

Tuesday, Feb. 22 vs. Villanova

Sunday, Feb. 27 at Georgetown

Wednesday, March 2 at Creighton

Saturday, March 5 vs. DePaul

March 9-12: Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden

UConn opens its non-conference slate on Nov. 9 at home against Central Connecticut State and will play 11 non-league games, including three in the Battle 4 Atlantis Nov. 24-26.

UCONN’S TOP 10 2021-22 OPPONENTS

Auburn, Nov. 24: UConn’s opening opponent in the Battle 4 Atlantis could be favorites in the SEC with a dominating frontcourt led by soon-to-be lottery pick freshman Jabari Smith and North Carolina transfer Walker Kessler. Much-improved guard Allen Flanigan will likely be out, however, after suffering preseason Achilles tendon injury.

Michigan State or Loyola Chicago, Nov. 25: Huskies’ second Atlantis foe, on Thanksgiving Day, will be either Tom Izzo’s Spartans, who have been involved in some of UConn’s most memorable matchups over the past decade, or the Ramblers, perennially one of the nation’s top “mid-majors.”

West Virginia, Dec. 8: Huskies will meet their former (and future? LOL) conference mates in a Big East-Big 12 Battle matchup on Dec. 8 in Morgantown. Mountaineers lost a lot to graduation, but will still be a Top 25-level team under 900-win coach Bob Huggins.

St. Bonaventure, Dec. 11: Bonnies return all five starters from last year’s Atlantic 10 champions, including Putnam Science Academy products Kyle Lofton and Osun Osunniyi, while adding several talented transfers, including Pitt’s Karim Coulibaly and Wake Forest’s Quadry Adams. The game is part of a Never Forget Tribute Classic doubleheader at Newark’s Prudential Center that will be kicked off by a UConn-UCLA women’s game.

Villanova, Feb. 5 (road), Feb. 22 (home): Despite losing Jeremiah Robinson-Earl to the NBA, Wildcats are heavy favorites in the Big East, guided by freshly-minted Naismith Hall of Fame coach Jay Wright and with point guard Collin Gillespie back for a fifth season, to go with veterans Jermaine Samuels, Justin Moore, Bryan Antoine and Caleb Daniels.

St. John’s, Jan. 12 (home), Feb. 13 (road): With Big East scoring leader Julian Champagnie and Freshman of the Year Posh Alexander back in the fold, along with transfers like Montez Mathis (Rutgers) and Stamford’s own Aaron Wheeler (Purdue), the Red Storm have as much top-flight talent as any team in the Big East. Huskies will look to exact revenge from last year’s loss at Gampel.

Xavier, Dec. 28 (road), Feb. 19 (home): Few teams were derailed by COVID more than Musketeers last season, but with their top seven scorers all returning, including second team All-Big East selections Paul Scruggs and Zach Freemantle, they should easily vie for the top of the league standings.

Seton Hall, Jan. 8 (road), Feb. 16 (home) : By adding transfers Kadary Richmond and Alexis Yetna to a roster with returnees Jared Rhoden and Myles Cale, Dan Hurley’s alma mater has some serious talent. It’s just a matter of how well Kevin Willard meshes it all together — especially with Mamu now a pro.

Butler, Jan. 1 (home), Jan. 20 (road): All five starters averaged in double figures last season, and all five return this season, led by Chuck Harris and Aaron Thompson. After a bad 2020-21, Bulldogs could be a top-five team in Big East.

Creighton, Feb. 1 (home), March 2 (road): Bluejays lost their top five scorers to graduation, transfer or the pros, but coach Greg McDermott brings in one of the top recruiting classes in the country, led by Arthur Kaluma and Ryan Nembhard.

david.borges@hearstmediact.com