The Washington Times - August 25, 2008, 11:05AM

The basketball schedules should start rolling in over the next couple weeks or so. So with 28 teams and only four teams down, the goal here will be to knock out one or two each day.

Today’s Delmarva/D.C. team: Hampton, which is coming off a solid 18-12 season that featured a victory over Virginia Commonwealth.


They’ll miss: Forward Matthew Pilgrim, who averaged 7.7 points as a part-time starter and transferred to Kentucky.

They’re adding: Frequent flyer miles. The Pirates should get a chance to make noise in a fairly high-profile event when they play in the Great Alaska Shootout in late November.

Home/road/neutral schedule split: 11/15/4

Best team visiting Hampton: The return game of a home-and-home brings Mid-American champ Kent State to town. The Golden Flashes finished with an RPI of 21 last year and earned a No. 9 seed in the NCAA tournament. Plus, they have former Maryland signee Tyree Evans as a walk-on.

Best home game subplot: Hampton was one of four teams ousted from the MEAC tournament by Coppin State in March. Fang’s Gang makes its trip to Hampton on Feb. 21 to complete the season home-and-home series.

Funny seeing you here:  Kent State is an obvious choice; MEAC schools are known for treacherous early road schedules, not bringing powerful mid-majors to town. That has the makings of being an entertaining game.

Best road venue:  Hampton joins the list of in-state schools making their way to Charlottesville to play Virginia. The Cavaliers in the post-Sean Singletary era have at least one utter clunker in them during the nonconference schedule, and Hampton has both the talent and the coaching to pull an upset on Dec. 23.

Best showcase: Dec. 6 vs. Howard at Madison Square Garden in New York. Now, the book here is that MSG is overrated, though I’ve only seen games there when 5,000 fans dressed as empty seats happened to be there as well. But for programs accustomed to far smaller venues during the season, this should be a real treat. This has been an annual game in recent years and provides a much better platform for the players, schools and the conference than just playing on campus.

Best opponent: If it isn’t Kent State, it’s one of the two CAA powers who return to Hampton’s slate: George Mason (which visits Nov. 20) and Virginia Commonwealth (which welcomes the Pirates on Dec. 27).

New to the schedule: Iona, Towson, Georgia State, Yale, Alaska-Anchorage, Portland State/Northern Illinois, Seattle/Louisiana Tech/San Diego State/Western Carolina.

Pivotal stretch: The Pirates have two eight-day spans in which they face Coppin State, Morgan State and Norfolk State (Jan. 24-31, Feb. 21-28). Salvage at least a split of those six games, and Hampton will be in good shape to finish at or near the top of the MEAC.

—- Patrick Stevens