1) Does Isaiah Whitehead play?
From what they are saying over at South Orange Juice it looks like Mr. Whitehead will suit up for the first time in nearly 6 weeks. Regardless if Whitehead plays or not, it will not effect the outcome of this game. Whitehead is a ball stopper and Seton Hall struggled offensively with him on the floor. Their offense has looked better since Whitehead's injury, but they could use a boost, a basketball one and a morale one. Seton Hall got off to a hot start in conference play with back-to-back wins over St. John's and Villanova. Since they have gone 2-4 in their last 6, a loss at Xavier, win at Creighton, loss vs. Butler, loss vs. DePaul, loss at Butler, and win at Marquette. Besides their win over Marquette on Wednesday, Seton Hall has struggled mightily recently. If not for Sterling Gibbs' buzzer-beating three at Creighton, Seton Hall's three game losing streak could have been five. Now, only St. John's started out conference play that badly, and they couldn't even beat Creighton at their place. Anyway, this Pirates team is good, but has fallen a part as of late. Although they played great at Marquette on Wednesday night, they can use a new body out there in Whitehead.
2) Has Xavier figured it out on the road?
My initial reaction is: Of course! They just beat a No. 21 ranked team in Georgetown on the road just a few nights ago. Thanks to a hot start and first half attention to detail that's been missing on the road all season, Xavier comfortably put themselves in the drivers seat the whole game. Now, this is only one game, and Xavier gave Georgetown all kinds of problems when the Hoyas played them at the Cintas Center. What I am saying is that Xavier just really matches up well with Georgetown. For that reason alone, I don't want to jump the gun and say Xavier has finally figured it out on the road. Let's wait and see how they play at Seton Hall before we declare this team as having finally solved their dreadful road woes.
3) For whom has more riding on this game?
Both teams have a lot riding on this game, because every game on your conference schedule is important. However, let's look at their records and upcoming schedules first. Seton Hall is 14-6 (4-4). Xavier is 14-7 (5-4). The Musketeers have played one more Big East game then the Pirates, but both teams have similar records and are currently standing in the middle of the dog fight that is the Big East. Xavier is 5th and Seton Hall at 7th currently. Based on the fact the worst Xavier can do is split this season series tilts the answer to Seton Hall. Seton Hall badly needs another win, especially a legitimately good win. Xavier has already beaten the Pirates this season, so if they lose its not the end of the world. Also, Xavier has an easy schedule coming up. They host Creighton and Providence next week, and the week after play at Marquette and home against St. John's. They very well could have eight or nine conference wins after these next five games and be in good position for the postseason. Meanwhile, Seton Hall plays at Depaul, vs. Marquette, vs. Georgetown, and at Providence in the next two weeks. Not a brutal stretch, but not even close to a walk-thru. Seton Hall and Xavier both want to win, but Seton Hall needs Saturday's game to end up in their favor more then the Musketeers do.