Seton Hall will look to take advantage of an Edmond Sumner-less Xavier when they take on the Musketeers in a vital road test on Wednesday night in Cincinnati.
Following an NCAA-bound 13-2 (3-0) start to the season, Xavier had lost four of five games prior to starting point guard Edmond Sumner (15 ppg, 5 apg, 4.3 rpg) suffering a season-ending ACL tear in their win against St. John’s at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.
Factor in the Musketeers getting the “short end of the stick” in the form of a quick turnaround compared to Seton Hall’s (13-7, 3-5) week of rest and this game is ripe for the Hall’s first win away from home in conference play and their first true road win since knocking off Iowa many moons ago.
Sumner had the 75th-best assist rate in the country and looks like he will be replaced by freshman Quentin Goodin (3.5 ppg, 2 apg), though I’m sure there will be uncertainty and growing pains due to so little time to adjust to such a cruel blow.
That isn’t the only recent subtraction that has impacted the Musketeers.
Plainfield native Myles Davis opted to leave the team two weeks ago after sitting out most of the season due to a suspension that stemmed from charges that involved an incident with a significant other; Davis ran most of the point guard show last season and as a senior, he was supposed to be solid second semester addition.
Xavier will be motivated to ensure their recent woes do not leave them reeling to the point where they are on the outside of the NCAA field looking in, but the fate of a one-time sure lock is anything but sealed at this point.
Kevin Willard will be keen on exploiting Xavier’s suddenly thin back court in the first meeting between the two schools since the Big East Tournament semifinals last year.
Khadeen Carrington (17.2 ppg, 2.9 apg) and Madison Jones (5.6 ppg, 3.6 apg) will need to step up their respective games at the Cintas Center. Carrington is shooting just 26-percent from three against Big East opponents after hitting at a clean 50-percent during non-league play while one would think a graduate transfer can out-play a greenhorn in Goodin.
On the wing and down low, Xavier is still potent as ever with leading scorer Trevon Bluiett (18.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg) set to take on an even bigger role with Ish Sanogo (3.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg) likely to guard him and seasoned senior RaShid Gaston (6.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg) responsible for defending an interesting stat.
Double-double machine Angel Delgado (14.6 ppg, 12.9 rpg) has only failed to register double-doubles against two Big East schools: Villanova (0-for-6) and Xavier (0-for-5) — keep an eye on that.
With three feasible games against Georgetown, Providence and St. John’s pending, Seton Hall must be as hungry as Gene Teague after wind sprints to grind out a road win on Wednesday and ride some momentum into the heart of their league schedule.
KenPom says: No. 28 Xavier 77, No. 58 Seton Hall 68 (21%)
Series history (Seton Hall 9-5)
March 11, 2016, SETON HALL 87, Xavier 83, New York City, N.J.
Feb. 28, 2016, SETON HALL 90, Xavier 81, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 23, 2016, Xavier 84, SETON HALL 76, Cincinnati, Ohio
Jan. 31, 2015, SETON HALL 90, Xavier 82, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 7, 2015, Xavier 69, SETON HALL 58, Cincinnati, Ohio
March 3, 2014, SETON HALL 71, Xavier 62, Newark, N.J.
Feb. 1, 2014, SETON HALL 68, Xavier 60, Cincinnati, Ohio
Nov. 21, 2010, Xavier 57, SETON HALL 52, St. Thomas, VI
Dec. 8, 1979, SETON HALL 70, Xavier 67, Bloomington, Ind.
March 16, 1957 Xavier 85, SETON HALL 79, New York, N.Y.
Jan. 10, 1956, SETON HALL 84, Xavier 73, South Orange, N.J.
Jan. 11, 1953, SETON HALL 86, Xavier 78, South Orange, N.J.
Jan. 5, 1949, SETON HALL 60, Xavier 51, South Orange, N.J.
Jan. 4, 1948, Xavier 41, SETON HALL 34, Cincinnati, Ohio
Projected Xavier starters
PG – Quentin Goodin
G – JP Macura
G/F – Trevon Bluiett
G/F – Malcolm Bernard
F – RaShid Gaston
Projected Seton Hall starters
PG – Madison Jones
G – Khadeen Carrington
F – Desi Rodriguez
F – Ish Sanogo
F – Angel Delgado
When: 9et, Wednesday
TV: FOX Sports 1
Radio: AM 570 (Gary Cohen & Dave Popkin)
Opening line: Seton Hall +6.5