Fresh off of winning the Wooden Legacy final late on Sunday night, Seton Hall has had a week to head back east and prepare for a tough Louisville team.
Led by former Xavier boss Chris Mack, Louisville is also coming off of some recent success: The Cards took down ninth-ranked Michigan State in overtime on Tuesday.
Louisville dropped two games to Tennessee and Marquette at the Barclays Center prior to thwarting Sparty, the latter of which was quite controversial after some questionable officiating down the stretch.
A return to the tri-state area will be Louisville’s last this regular season and comes as a minor surprise to Mack, who thought he had seen the last of Newark before he checked his new program’s upcoming schedule.
“I feel bad for him (Mack), I told him, ‘You can’t get away from Newark. You get out of the league, you go to Louisville and you go to Newark on December 1,” said Kevin Willard at Big East Media Day.
“He looked at me and he goes, ‘What are you talking about?’ I told him, ‘you guys are returning home this year,’ and he’s like, ‘Oh, jeez. I can’t get out of Newark!'”
Seton Hall will be wishing they had a Ismael Sanogo type on defense today, as 6’7 forward Jordan Nwora (17.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg) — a former recruiting target — has been leading the charge for Louisville.
“I watched them against Marquette the other night. Obviously Chris (Mack) is one of the best coaches in the country, he does a great job defensively,” said Kevin Willard post-Miami.
“We’re going to have our hands full with Jordan Nwora, who is playing really well and shooting the basketball. They’re playing a little different than they did at Xavier, which is expected. … It will be a little weird seeing him (Mack) in a red tie.”
For Seton Hall, they will be looking to win a consecutive game against Louisville for the first time since the 1950s after a nail-biter in Kentucky last season. The Pirates are 3-9 against the Cards since 2002 including a five-game losing streak in Big East play.
The good news is that the Hall has had longer to prepare for the test, and Willard appears quite prolific when he has the time to game plan.
Seton Hall is 13-3 since the start of the 2015-16 season when given five or more days to prepare, not including season openers. This stat ignores this year’s New Haven exhibition prior to the Nebraska loss, or the stat would be 13-2.
Winning today would maintain important momentum into a game against a poor New Hampshire on Tuesday, which proceeds a big test against Kentucky at Madison Square Garden next weekend, another game set to air on FOX’s flagship station.
While I’m sure the student section will be packed — that’s a given over the past four or five seasons — it sounds like Seton Hall has struggled to sell tickets to the general fan base.
Empty seats, especially coupled with a poor result on the court, wouldn’t look good to prospective recruits. And I’d bet FOX executives will take notice and factor atmosphere in when mulling over nationally televised games that could include Seton Hall in the future.
KenPom says: No. 54 Seton Hall 76, No. 52 Louisville 73
Series History: SH 6-12
Projected Louisville starters
G – Darius Perry
G – Christen Cunningham
G/F – Dwayne Sutton
F – Jordan Nwora
F – Steven Enoch
Projected Seton Hall starters
PG – Quincy McKnight
G – Myles Powell
G/F – Myles Cale
F – Sandro Mamukelashvili
F – Mike Nzei
TV: Noon ET, FOX
Opening line: Seton Hall -3.5
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