Preview: No. 23 Seton Hall hosts No. 25 Creighton in Big East-opener

There’s no rest for the weary in the Big East and No. 23 Seton Hall will take on high-flying No. 25 Creighton on Thursday night to jump-start their conference campaign.

Ish Sanogo‘s suspension status is still up in the air, although the senior forward did pen this sincere apology a few hours after Kevin Willard said there was no change in his status on a Big East teleconference.

While it looks like the door can be open to an earlier return than possible, I’d be somewhat surprised if Sanogo is in action for Creighton given the suspected infraction that he committed. 

Winners of their last five, the Jays have scored over 90 points in eight of their 12 games, making Sanogo’s presence all the more important.

The match-up is by far the most exciting of the night on paper according to KenPom; here are three plot lines to keep an eye on as Seton Hall looks to start conference play on a positive note.

Three things to watch

Seton Hall has not done well when Khadeen Carrington doesn’t perform at point guard. Carrington, Myles Powell & Co. will be tested early and often by guard Marcus Foster (19.5 ppg, 2.4 apg) and it’ll be interesting to track how that battle goes, especially Carrington’s offensive efficiency given what he will have to do defensively. Willard on his lead guard’s form:  “I think the biggest think over the last couple weeks, what I’ve tried to really harp on Khadeen is the team’s playing good because our point guard is playing good, and he’s our point guard.”

Creighton’s offense is similar (but better) to the Hall’s when it has been clicking. The Jays rack up assists and have a top-50 assist:field goal made ratio, but only one guy (Kaleb Joseph) averages over 3 apg, indicating that it’s a team effort. Coincidentally, they sport the nation’s best two-pointer percentage, but 36-percent of their points come from three (compared to 25% for the Hall), good for 66th in the country. Willard better have his team prepared to defend in transition — something they’ve not been great at — as Creighton has the sixth-shortest average possession length; they also have the ninth-best turnover percentage. Those are some scary stats.

Khryi Thomas has become Creighton’s equivalent of Sanogo, he may be tasked with defending Desi Rodriguez. As you know, Rodriguez tapped into another level of his game earlier in the season and while that has tapered off a little bit of late, he is still the Pirates’ most explosive scorer. Keep an eye on if Thomas (15.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.4 spg) gets the nod to defend him.

KenPom says: No. 21 Seton Hall 85, No. 29 Creighton 80

Series history: (6-4 SH since 1990-91)

Projected Creighton starters
G – Davion Mintz
G – Marcus Foster
F – Khyri Thomas
F – Martin Krampelj
F – Toby Hegner

Projected Seton Hall starters
PG – Khadeen Carrington
G – Myles Powell
F – Desi Rodriguez
F – Mike Nzei
F – Angel Delgado

TV: 6:30ET, FS1
Radio: AM970 / SIRIUS 137 / XM 201
Opening line: Seton Hall -4