Beating Villanova could get Seton Hall ranked (again)

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If you agreed with my take last week that similarities existed between Seton Hall’s trip to Providence this season and their game at the Dunk last year, then we’re probably on the same page regarding some of the context of the Hall’s pending clash with No. 4 Villanova on Wednesday night.

Just like the Pirates’ upset of Nova last season, Seton Hall will be fresh off of a big win over a slightly overrated ranked team, Kevin Willard’s team dispatched of a good but not top-25 good St. John’s team at home last January compared to their road win over Providence on Saturday.

Luckily for Seton Hall, the Wildcats will be coming off just eight-straight wins – one of which was a fiercely-contested 72-63 win over the Pirates 2 weeks ago – when they travel 2 hours north on I-95 to Prudential Center; Villanova boasted a 13-game streak before it was snapped in overtime in Newark last January.Screenshot 2016-01-18 at 08.03.55

The Wildcats have played 3 games – wins against Butler, Marquette and Georgetown – since their last meeting with Seton Hall while the Pirates have played 2.

Like we saw in the first game this season, Villanova is playing a bit against their stereotype and are grinding out wins by not playing fast and shutting it down defensively. Jay Wright’s team held Butler (13th in offensive efficiency) to 55 points and most recently gave up just 50 to Georgetown, all while playing at the 311th-quickest pace.

Daniel Ochefu has tallied a combined 16 points and 22 rebounds in three games since posting 20 and 18 against the Hall (Ochefu only plays like an All-American against the Hall, apparently); can Angel Delgado snap a three-game streak of Ochefu getting the better of him? He has a decent chance with Chief battling through the flu and a tailbone injury.

Now ranked as the top team in KenPom, the Cats have spread the wealth offensively over their last three with Josh Hart leading the charge with 15.6 ppg and 8.6 rpg over that span. Mikal Bridges, Phil Booth and Darryl Reynolds remain as Jay Wright’s three go-to guys off the pine while his team has collectively continued to hoist the three-ball; they’ve attempted 18 per game of their last 3 after launching 22 against the Hall.

Like last season, a win over 4th-ranked Villanova will surely propel Seton Hall into the top-25, regardless of what transpires on their trip to No. 5 Xavier on Saturday. Seton Hall has shown flashes of inconsistency in their loss to Creighton but also signs of a really dangerous team in wins at Marquette and Providence. The Pirates picked up two votes in the USA Today Coaches Poll but none in the AP, both of which were released on Monday.

With revenge on their minds for two straight losses at their place, everyone will need to play better than usual to beat Villanova, especially on the defensive glass where they allowed 18 offensive rebounds at the Pavilion and were held to a 57% defensive rebounding percentage; the Hall’s rate of cleaning the defensive glass is 233rd nationally.

Will Kevin Willard roll with Derrick Gordon, who played his best game in Pirate Blue at Providence, as a starter for a second game in a row? I would. The move also provoked a career-high 22 points from Khadeen Carrington in the first game he has come off the bench since the blowout at Rutgers, when Gordon and Veer Singh both received starts.

KenPom says: No. 1 Villanova 70, No. 44 Seton Hall 64 (28%)

Last 10 meetings (Nova 7-3):

Jan. 6, 2016, Villanova 72, SETON HALL 63, Villanova, Pa.
Feb. 13, 2015, Villanova 80, SETON HALL 54, Villanova, Pa.
Jan. 3, 2015, SETON HALL 66, Villanova 61 (ot), Newark, N.J.
March 13, 2014, SETON HALL 64, Villanova 63, New York, N.Y.
Feb. 7, 2014, Villanova 70, SETON HALL 53, Villanova, Pa.
Jan. 8, 2014, Villanova 83, Seton Hall 67, Newark, N.J.
Feb. 25, 2013, SETON HALL 66, Villanova 65, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 18, 2012, Villanova 84, SETON HALL 76, Villanova, Pa.
Feb. 15, 2011, Villanova 60, SETON HALL 57, Newark, N.J.
Feb. 2, 2010, Villanova 81, SETON HALL 71, Villanova, Pa.

Projected Villanova starters:

Jalen Brunson (10.2 ppg, 2.7 apg)
Ryan Arcidiacono (12.7 ppg, 4.5 apg)
Josh Hart (15.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg)
Kris Jenkins (10.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg)
Daniel Ochefu (10.1 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.8 bpg)

Projected Seton Hall starters:

Isaiah Whitehead (15.1 ppg, 4.5 apg, 2.9 rpg)
Derrick Gordon (8.8. ppg, 3.6 rpg)
Desi Rodriguez (11.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg)
Ismael Sanogo (5 ppg, 7.4 rpg)
Angel Delgado (9.2 ppg, 9.6 rpg)

When: 9pm, Wednesday
TV: CBS Sports Network
Radio: 970AM (Gary Cohen, Dave Popkin)
Opening line: Seton Hall +7