Previewing the non-conference opponents: George Washington

Days after hosting a tough Georgia team, Seton Hall will travel south on I-95 to D.C. where they will take on Atlantic 10 foe George Washington.

The second consecutive team that the Pirates played last season, the Colonials (22-13, 10-8) were thought to be an early season benchmark test when Kevin Willard’s squad scratched out a gritty 58-54 win at Prudential Center last November.

George Washington loses starting two-guard Kethan Savage and forward John Kopriva from last year’s NIT team, but adds wo impact transfers, though one-time Pirate Jaren Sina has to sit out this season due to transfer regulations.

Roster subtractions: Kethan Savage (11.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.3 apg), John Kopriva (6.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg), Nick Griffin (2.7 ppg),

Returnees to watch: Patricio Garino (12.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg), Kevin Larsen (10.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 2.4 rpg), Joe McDonald (9.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.1 apg), Yuta Watanabe (7.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg)

Key additions: Alex Mitola (Dartmouth; 12.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.7 apg), Tyler Cavanaugh (Wake Forest; 7 ppg, 3.2 rpg)

Luckily for Seton Hall, Kethan Savage won’t be back for GW after leading all scorers with 19 at the Rock last season. The bad news? He’ll still face the Pirates twice in 2016-17 after transferring to Butler.Capture

Still, head coach Mike Lonergan still has plenty of reasons to be optimistic for the upcoming campaign after adding two-guard Alex Mitola from Dartmouth on a graduate transfer while Wake Forest forward Tyler Cavanaugh is now eligible after sitting out in 2014-15.

I’d expect Mitola, a dangerous three-point threat, to fill in alongside point guard Joe McDonald while Patricio Garino starts at the three, Kevin Larsen mans the five and Japanese sophomore Yuta Watanabe sees his role expand by competing with Tyler Cavanaugh to replace departed senior John Kopriva at the four.

Statistically well-balanced and a team that plays slower than most, I foresee George Washington remaining in the same NIT/bubble team territory again this season. If Alex Mitola can transition well from the Ivy League to Atlantic 10 and replace Kethan Savage, I can easily see GW being better than a season ago.

Their three key cogs of Garino (G/F), Larsen (C) and McDonald (PG) are all back and it looks like the Colonials added the key pieces in Mitola and Cavanaugh.

GW will be yet another test for Seton Hall coming on the heels of the Charleston Classic.

Miss the rest of the Preview Series? See below: