Nineteen games. Fifteen cities. One hundred seven days.

For better or for worse, the end result of a long and winding road for the Fairfield men’s basketball team will be an opportunity for a championship in the MAAC tournament.

While the team’s destination may ultimately determine whether this season will be labeled as a success or a failure, the journey was revealed this past Thursday, as the Athletic Department released the much-anticipated 2007-2008 schedule.

Much like last season, this year’s schedule is laden with a challenging out-of-conference schedule and an equally difficult stretch of MAAC games.

The two most intriguing storylines are an early-season visit to Winston-Salem to take on Wake Forest and the inaugural “Battle for Fairfield” against Sacred Heart University, last year’s runner-up in the Northeast Conference (NEC).

Furthermore, the team has once again created buzz across school by scheduling two “true” home games at Alumni Hall.

The first of these will be Dec. 4 against Yale. The Stags will also face MAAC rival St. Peter’s on campus later in the season on Jan. 21.

Following the annual preseason exhibition game against the University of Bridgeport, the Stags take a trip down Tobacco Road to face their most noteworthy foe of the season: Wake Forest.

Despite finishing with a losing record in 2006, the Demon Deacons have been one of the premier Atlantic Coastal Conference (ACC) teams over the past decade.

Wake has reached post-season play for the past 16 seasons, the longest such streak in the ACC, with 15 of those appearances coming in the NCAA tournament, the other coming in the National Invitational Tournament.

The other early season challenges come from Cincinnati and Georgetown, with both games scheduled on the same three-game road trip in late November.

While the contest against the Hoyas, a NCAA Final Four team one season ago, is menacing, the Stags may be able to make an early-season statement against Cincinnati.

Aside from losing 11 of their final 12 games last season, the Bearcats finished 2-14 in Big East play, which included early-season losses to mid-major schools Wofford (10-20 overall in 2006) and University of Ohio.

Fairfield opens MAAC play on Dec. 7 against Siena.

The toughest portion of the in-conference schedule comes with a holiday road trip that includes visits to Marist, Siena, and Loyola (Md.), three of the top four teams in MAAC play one season ago.

Sacred Heart, one of the most anticipated games of the season, is on Nov. 18 at the Arena at Harbor Yard. This will likely provide a good early season indicator for the Stags against a comparable opponent.

After finishing third in the NEC with a 18-14 record, the Pioneers were nine minutes away from an NCAA tournament berth before Central Connecticut State battled back to win, 74-70.

One season later, Fairfield now has that same chance to claim the rights as the top mid-major in the Nutmeg State.

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