Seton Hall has an opportunity to extend their winning streak to four and hand Villanova their second straight loss for the first time in years when the Pirates host the No. 4 Wildcats on Wednesday.
The Pirates had Villanova up against the ropes and a buzzing crowd uneasy earlier this month when they went toe-to-toe with the Wildcats for 30 minutes before crumbling after pulling within 62-60 with just under ten to play.
With a new lease on life after overturning the four-game losing skid that was set in motion following that loss in Philadelphia, Seton Hall has a chance to improve their NCAA seeding tremendously and win their first game against Villanova since the 2015-16 Big East title game.
Since the first meeting, the Wildcats have been navigating in relatively choppy water by their standards, having dropped three of their last six, their worst stretch since 2012-13, which is also the last time Jay Wright’s team has dropped consecutive games.
Talk about a consistent basketball machine.
The positive news for Villanova is that one of their largest weaknesses — depth — has been largely solved over the past few weeks with the return of freshman wing Jermaine Samuels after he suffered a fractured bone in his left hand in December, as well as key guard Phil Booth (11.4 ppg, 3.1 apg), who endured a similar injury to his right hand in January.
With Desi Rodriguez (sprained ankle) probable but certainly less than 100-percent, Seton Hall will need to take down a fully stocked Villanova if they are to pull off the upset on Wednesday night.
Three Keys to Victory
After averaging 4.4 fouls per game and 10.6 ppg over a five-game stretch, Khadeen Carrington appears back on track. The converted one-guard put up 47 points (on 29 shots) to go along with just three fouls to earn himself Big East player of the week honors and it showed in Seton Hall’s overall play. If you remember, things fell apart when Carrington found himself in foul trouble at Wells Fargo Center, leaving on-ball defense as a huge focal point with All-America candidate Jalen Brunson (19.3 ppg, 4.9 apg) leading the opposing charge.
Seton Hall needs to rain some threes. The team was largely quiet from the perimeter in the first meeting until some late ones fell when the result was already decided to pad a mediocre 7-of-18 rate that won’t get it done against a team of Villanova’s stature. Myles Powell had an off-day at St. John’s and will need to bring his A-game, especially with Desi Rodriguez less than 100-percent at best. Beyond those two, others will need to step up whether it’s Carrington, or the collective role players.
Angel Delgado (18 pts, 9 rebs) and Ish Sanogo (4 pts, 5 rebs, 3 blks, 2 asts) need to repeat their performance from the first game. Aside from their stats, which were good, these pair of Pirates brought most of the intangibles to play in what was a hard-hitting and intense game. Sanogo played a great all-around game which was perhaps highlighted by a pair of impressive blocks, and Delgado will have a clear advantage if he receives the ball in an optimal spot in the paint, but therein lies the problem as Villanova is great at preventing this as a collective unit. Despite their successes, Omari Spellman will need better monitoring as the versatile forward was able to hit three after three last time around.
Now out of the 8-9 game according to most Bracketology sites, Seton Hall has a chance to stay out of that game for good by winning here.
Big picture, they are likely still in the field even if they were to lose their next three games, but splitting the final two regular season games and picking up a win in New York is likely sufficient to stay a 7-seed or better.
Series history (since 1950): 35-65 SH
KenPom says: No. 2 Villanova 85, No. 32 Seton Hall 78 (29%)
Projected Villanova starters
PG – Jalen Brunson
G – Donte DiVincenzo
F – Mikal Bridges
F – Eric Paschall
F – Omari Spellman
Projected Seton Hall starters
PG – Khadeen Carrington
G – Myles Powell
F – Desi Rodriguez
F – Ish Sanogo
F – Angel Delgado
TV: 8:30pm, FS1
Radio: 570 AM / SIRIUS 83 / XM 83 / WESTWOOD ONE
Opening line: Seton Hall +5.5
Please use this post for all in-game and immediate post-game discussion.