Emergence of Isaiah Whitehead
Against Rutgers, fans saw the entire repertoire from Whitehead as the Pirates annihilated Rutgers to claim the inaugural Garden State Hardwood Classic. Whitehead had a career-high 25 points to go along with five assists and four rebounds. The freshman leads the Hall with 3.7 assists per game and is averaging 17.5 points over his last four games after only shooting 7-for-30 in his first three college games.
It is safe to say that Whitehead is getting used to Division I basketball and the Big East Rookie of the Week could not have stepped up at a better time for Seton Hall, as they travel on the road for their first true road test of the season. head coach Kevin Willard said after the Rutgers game that he was eager to see how this team would fare on the road in a hostile environment, and so is the rest of the nation. The Pirates received 57 votes in this week’s AP Poll and 28 in the Coaches’ Poll after their two blowout wins last week. If The Hall springs the upset this week they will likely have a number next to their name by the end of this week.
If Isaiah "Right Head" and his teammates can keep their collective heads in the right frame of mind, this team should be able to keep up their mature play. The Blue and White are coming into this game with all the confidence in the world and there is no reason why that will not carry on. With Whitehead and the freshman playing like veterans, Seton Hall has more than a puncher’s chance to win this game.
The Shockers have been there and done that as they have won 40 of the last 42 games they have played overall. After losing their first regular season game since March 2013, guard Ron Baker stepped up with 18 points in an 81-52 drubbing of Saint Louis.
Wichita State has won 21 straight home games and 29 in a row against nonconference foes at Charles Koch Arena. The 10,000 plus on hand will look to this young Pirates’ team as uncomfortable as possible as their Shockers look to deliver the Hall their first loss of the season.
No one on this team, including head coach Gregg Marshall, were around the last time these two teams met in the NCAA Tournament. Marshall took over the season after they defeated the Hall 88-66 and went on the Sweet 16. However, the core of this Shockers’ team were part of their own run to the Final Four just two years ago as well as the 35-1 season in 2013-14. This team will be ready to go on Tuesday night and expect it to be an incredible atmosphere.
Battle on the Boards
Both teams have used rebounding to get off to the solid starts far this season. For Wichita State, it does not seem as if they any solid rebounders, but looks statistics can be deceiving. The Shockers have six players averaging at least three rebounds a game led by Tekele Cotton who has 4.4 boards per game. It may seem as if this team struggles to rebound, but that could not be further from the truth. Marshall’s team averages 41.5 rebounds per game, which is ranked 23rd in the nation.
For Seton Hall, they also have multiple players that can rebound the basketball and one stands out above all the rest. Angel Delgado is averaging 10.1 rebounds per game and has dominated the offensive boards through seven games. Whitehead is averaging 3.6 boards per contest while Brandon Mobley and Desi Rodriguez average 5.1 and 4.1 rebounds respectively. The Pirates average 37.7 boards per game, which ranked 89th in the nation. It will interesting to see whether the group effort or the individual talent will win the battle on the glass.
There are only 12 remaining unbeaten teams in college basketball and Wichita State looks to knock Seton Hall from the ranks of the unblemished. If Whitehead plays well and The Hall can deal with that tough environment in Wichita, do not be surprised if we see another "shocker" from a Big East team in non-conference play.