(NINA LIN / THE STATESMAN)
The Stony Brook men’s basketball team opens its season on Nov. 14 against Columbia in Stony Brook Arena. (NINA LIN / THE STATESMAN)

The Stony Brook men’s basketball schedule was finally released this past Friday, after the preseason National Invitation Tournament details were finalized after a long delay.

The Seawolves will open their season in the new Stony Brook Arena on Nov. 14 against Columbia before moving on to preseason NIT play.

The Seawolves will not be the first to play at Stony Brook Arena, following up a visit by the Harlem Globetrotters to debut the new stadium.

No longer a bracketed tournament, the preseason NIT now features event games and locked semifinal matchups.

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Stony Brook will be taking part in four event games, but won’t be able to compete for the pre-NIT championship.

The entirety of Stony Brook’s preseason NIT games will be broadcasted on ESPN’s family of networks, giving the Seawolves a chance to make themselves known even further.

Stony Brook will travel to Georgia (ranked No. 72 on kenpom.com) on Tuesday, Nov. 18 to play the Bulldogs, then face off against Western Kentucky a week later at Stony Brook Arena.

The Seawolves close out their preseason NIT games with a bout against LIU-Brooklyn at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 27 (which is Thanksgiving) and an afternoon contest two days later vs. St. Thomas Aquinas back in Stony Brook.

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In what will arguably be their toughest opponent of the year, Stony Brook will play at Cincinnati on Dec. 2.

The Bearcats were a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament last season, and ranked No. 23 on kenpom.com’s team standings.

This game is the first of four straight away games for Stony Brook, their longest road trip of the season.

The Seawolves travel from Cincinnati to Princeton, Providence and Canisius to close the away swing.

The contest against Princeton will be a return to their home state for Stony Brook’s two best players, Jameel Warney and Carson Puriefoy.

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The Seawolves voyage out west on Dec. 28 to play at Washington of the Pac 12 conference.

The Huskies ranked No. 95 last season on kenpom.com.

Conference play kicks off on Jan. 3 against New Hampshire, when the Seawolves will play every America East foe twice.

Conference play ends when SBU plays at Hartford on Feb. 28 at the cusp of the America East Playoffs.

No longer the America East Championship, the tournament will now reward higher seeds with home court advantage throughout, as opposed to having one court play host to every game leading up to the championship contest.

Last season Stony Brook played their first two games of the tournament in Albany, but as the higher seed in the championship game, got to play one last game at Pritchard Gymnasium.

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Stony Brook will play two non-Division I teams this season, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (Division III) and St. Thomas Aquinas, (Division II) the latter as a preseason NIT event.

The Seawolves’ Divison I non-conference opponents have a combined winning percentage of .564, setting the stage for a season with not only high expectations, but a higher level of competition.

After consecutive years of falling an inch short of their first NCAA Tournament berth, Stony Brook now has to overcome an even tougher schedule with added media attention.

After a USA Today Sports article proclaimed this to be Stony Brook’s year to get over the hump, the Seawolves are no longer trying to come up and win in underdog fashion.

All eyes are on Stony Brook now, with higher profile games, higher profile recruits, and one thought on fans’ minds. This is the year.

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