vs. SETON HALL PIRATES
Prudential Center, Newark, NJ
Tip-off: Saturday, 2:30 pm ET
Line: NA, Total: NA
A pair of Top 20 teams meet as Seton Hall looks to defend its home court against visiting Xavier.
It's been a strong season so far for the Big East, with Villanova sitting atop both Top 25 polls and seven of the conference’s teams currently on track for an NCAA Tournament. Among those seven teams are Seton Hall and Xavier, which three days after an 89-65 trouncing at Villanova on Jan. 10 took its frustrations out on a visiting Creighton squad, handing the Bluejays their fourth loss of the season in a 92-70 rout. Seton Hall, meanwhile, has impressive out-of-conference wins this season over Texas Tech and Louisville, while Butler and Creighton are among the Big East opponents the Pirates have taken down. While Seton Hall comes into this one with a perfect 11-0 straight-up record at home this season, the Pirates are just 5-6 ATS in those 11 games.
The Musketeers are led by G Trevon Bluiett, now (finally) a senior. He shot a combined 8-of-25 from the field for 23 only total points over back-to-back losses to Providence and Villanova, then bounced back with 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting in the win over Creighton. Bluiett's backcourt mate, G JP Macura, remained cold in that one, scoring only 10 points, which was more than he’d scored in either of his prior two games. (Macura had scored at least 15 points in four straight games before that stretch.). F Kaiser Gates’ recent cold stretch earned him a spot on the bench to start the Creighton game, but he responded with 16 points and eight rebounds in what was arguably his best game of the year. He's lethal from deep, shooting better than 43% on the season through the Creighton game and attempting fewer threes than only Bluiett. Four Musketeers average more than five rebounds per game but none as many as six, demonstrating their balanced, perimeter-focused lineup. Senior Fs Sean O'Mara and Karem Kanter are both 6-10, and sophomore F Tyrique Jones is 6-9. O'Mara and Kanter combined for 24 points and 12 boards against Creighton. Jones dressed for that game but did not play for the first time this season because of a hand injury.
A trio of stars powers Seton Hall's lineup, none bigger than F Angel Delgado—literally. The hulking 6-10 junior led the nation in rebounding and offensive rebounding last season, and he was second in Division I with 27 double-doubles. This season has been a return to form, as he was third in the country in rebounding entering Wednesday night's games with 11.7 RPG, having posted a double-double in seven straight games. In the game before that streak, he had 21 rebounds. F Desi Rodriguez is averaging better than 18 points per game to lead the Pirates in scoring. A versatile player who’s shooting over 37% from three, he’s averaging more than five boards per game and leading the team in steals. Rodriguez had scored at least 19 points in four of his previous five games before taking on Creighton. The backcourt duo of Gs Khadeen Carrington and Myles Powell averages nearly 30 combined points per game, with the senior Carrington serving as the team's point guard and leader on the court. After getting solid minutes as a freshman last season, Powell has improved his efficiency to step up as a worthy compliment to the Pirates' big three. That quartet accounts for more than 75% of the team's scoring. F Michael Nzei rounds out the starting five, while F Ismael Sanogo is the team's leading minutes-getter off the bench.