Preview: Rhode Island first up for No. 20 Seton Hall as schedule heats up

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Starting with a Thanksgiving Day clash against Rhode Island in a few hours, No. 20 Seton Hall is digging into the main course of their non-conference schedule.

The Hall’s impressive line-up was applauded prior to the season starting, and the thick of the schedule is now upon us after a 19.25-point average margin of victory over the first four games.

NJIT and perhaps Fairleigh Dickinson will be among Seton Hall’s four-worst opponents this season while Indiana is panning out to be weaker than first thought, but the upcoming series of games remain ripe for the Pirates to impress.

A win tonight will more likely than not yield a meeting with 26th-ranked Virginia on Friday night (or Vanderbilt with a loss) prior to Seton Hall shifting their focus to a different New York City borough when they take on 27th-ranked Texas Tech at Madison Square Garden.

But the gauntlet of top-30 opponents doesn’t stop there as the Hall must travel to No. 19 Louisville next Sunday before a battle-tested VCU outfit comes to Newark days later.

When the dust settles, Seton Hall should have three shots to pick up resume wins away from home, and two opponents not to be overlooked. We’ll know a lot more about this seasoned group come December 10th.

On the immediate horizon, Dan Hurley’s Rhode Island (2-1) is reeling ever so slightly after losing fifth-year senior E.C. Matthews to a wrist injury in a loss at Nevada; Rhodie was ranked just outside the top-25 to start the season.

Fellow senior Stanford Robinson (11 ppg, 2.3 apg) should see an expanded role in Matthews’ place as the Rams look to build off a 88-66 bounce-back win over Holy Cross last Sunday. Wing Jared Terrell (18.3 ppg, 4 rpg, 3 apg) — another senior — leads his team in scoring and will likely be hounded by Ish Sanogo & Co. all night.

Seton Hall has not met Rhode Island since a 60-55 win in 2012 when Gene Teague scored 21 and pulled in 9 rebounds at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. The last time the two schools met on a home floor, Rhode Island head coach Jim Baron called Andre Barrett the best point guard in the nation after he registered 23 points and 12 assists in a 79-67 win at the Meadowlands.

Despite a mere four-point Vegas spread, many Seton Hall fans are optimistic about their chances due to the E.C. Matthews injury and subsequent surprise loss.

But as we’ve seen in recent years with bracketed non-conference events, there is a fine margin between taking care of business and taking on Virginia tomorrow evening, and losing to Rhode Island prior to seeing Vanderbilt.

Three things to watch

The Senior Battle(s). Of course you’ve heard about Seton Hall’s senior class, but Rhode Island is statistically more-senior, at least according to KenPom’s experience rating. Willard’s roster ranks 126th in experience while Dan Hurley’s group – which includes five seniors in the main rotation – sits 24th. This is in stark contrast to some of the greenhorn teams which have come to town over the Hall’s first four games.

Angel Delgado against a smaller front court. Assuming the big man is back from a “calf injury” that provoked Willard to sit him for the final 18 minutes of the NJIT game, Delgado will be operating against one of the smaller front courts he will see this season. Rhode Island ranks 307th in average height and Hurley typically only has one guy 6-foot-7 or taller on the court at a time. This will play more of a factor if/when the Rams try to double Angel, leaving much smaller defenders on whoever is manning the ‘four’ and Desi Rodriguez at the ‘three’. 

A better first 20 minutes. Although this game is set to tip just after or during when the east coast will be sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner, the team will be having their holiday dinner on Sunday and will have no excuse for another tryptophan-inspired start. Rhode Island is +5 in first halves this year, suggesting a weakness, while Seton Hall has been leading by an average of four points (+16) after the first ten minutes this season.

Projected Rhode Island starters:
PG – Jeff Dowtin
G – Jarvis Garrett
G – Stanford Robinson
G/F – Jared Terrell
F – Andre Berry

Projected Seton Hall starters:
PG – Khadeen Carrington
2G – Myles Powell
F – Desi Rodriguez
F – Mike Nzei
C – Angel Delgado

Radio: AM970
Opening line: Seton Hall -4
Series: SH 6-1

  • PadrePirate

    This is a big game at the head of an important stretch of 5. We need to come out firing and build momentum with a W to start off these next two weeks. No more cupcakes. Either we feast on some real opponents, or its back to the bubble like last year.

    Elsewhere…BE teams are doing quite well in their OOC. I like what I saw from Marquette in Maui. Their guards get hot in a hurry, and both Heldt and Hauser seem to have elevated their play. 3 strong games in 3 days for MU.

  • Louie Dee

    Does anyone know approximately the tip off time? I know 6pm but there might be a delay.

  • LBP

    Big start of almost a defining stretch — I believe SHU will win by double digits but am a bit surprised by the line of -4 ( I took 4.5 after line opened at 5) -I think Deeno will shine being “home” in Brooklyn. As always , this Team will go as does Angel. Do not want another slow start and no injuries. Go Hall

  • PadrePirate

    Not a good start. Porous defense. Powell keeping us in the game.

  • Matty P

    Disappointing start to this stretch. NCAA needs to take a look at that half court violation rule in my opinion. Hope the team takes this as motivation going forward but a big missed opportunity for a game against VA.

  • LBP

    No excuses-Hall did not look like a senior laden Team at end of Game. Wish they had more poise but maybe Carrington was over amped. Maybe we will see higher intensity from start of Game-its their choice.

  • Matt

    MISSED FREE THROWS. All I’m gonna say.

    • Matty P

      That was the big difference. Both teams shot about the same amount but Rhode Island made almost all of theirs vs our teams usual struggles.

  • Matty P

    I’d also like to know from Willard why Desi was covering Terrell on that last shot instead of Sanogo. Desi hadn’t been able to cover him all night so why not put your best defender on him.

  • PadrePirate

    Very disappointed. Playing catch up all night. Couldn’t come up with big stops when needed. TO’s and FTs will kill this team.

  • LBP

    I do not submit I know everything -(you all know there was going to be a BUT) -I do know that in any Sport you can not let the Best Player on the other Team have a chance to beat You on a last shot- put 8 Guys on him if necessary- terrible end Game play

    • Matty P

      Couldn’t understand why Sanogo wasn’t guarding him on that final play. Why not put your best defender on their best player who was killing you all night.

  • z06

    Make free throws , this will happen all year against the cup cakes you can get by but when the teams get better will make the difference