1. What has been main difference between Seton Hall at home and on the road?
Sean Saint Jacques: There are a number of factors. Poise in the big moments has been there and then it has been distant. Brandon Mobley showed composure with a big three against Xavier, but then he fouled out with about 6 minutes remaining and cost the Pirates the win. It comes down to figuring out how to get high percentage looks on a consistent basis away from home. That has been a struggle this season because of crowd noise not being in their favor. Isaiah Whitehead was one of the better road players for this team and the Pirates will likely only have to play one more without him, but it is an important one for the team's confidence. This is a young team, which is why these road losses against tough opponents in rowdy environments is not surprising, but The Hall will need to figure it out soon and against Creighton is a great place to start.
Anthony Santaniello: This is a Pirates team that feeds off the energy of the home crowd. It was seen in their last game against Xavier. They got off to a slow start and although they came back and made the game close, they weren't ever able to take control like in games prior. Sterling Gibbs is no doubt the leader on the court but in the Xavier game, he tried to force the Musketeers' hand instead of letting the game come to him.
2. What has led to the 0-3 conference start for Creighton?
Christopher Novak: Average shooting, and horrendous perimeter defense. Teams are shooting a 3-point field goal rate of 36.5 percent against the Bluejays and are converting on 37.9 percent of their 3-point attempts. Those marks are 247th and 307th in the country. That certainly speaks for itself. In addition, the Bluejays are not creating turnovers at a high rate. Their steal% is one of the worst in the country, standing at 321st amongst the 351 teams in Division 1. One additional reason to this lack of success has been the Bluejays' ability -- or lack thereof -- to stay out of foul trouble. Devin Brooks, Isaiah Zierden and Austin Chatman are the only Bluejays to have an FC/40 (Fouls Committed Per 40 Minutes) of 2.0 or less. The next lowest total comes from James Milliken whose FC/40 is 2.5. Everyone else has one of 4.0 or higher, including sophomore Zach Hanson whose stands at a staggering rate of 5.9.
Derek Rayment: Looks like Chris threw out some major stats. I'll hit you with the perspective of a Creighton fan for the last 20 years. The Bluejays simply have no confidence and do not look like the same team that defeated Oklahoma and won at Nebraska. This team has players who were recruited as shooters in the Missouri Valley Conference. The 0-3 start can be contributed to having smaller guards that cannot play with the bigger, more athletic guard of the Big East. Creighton will play with bigger guards in future seasons, but this season the Bluejays need to do the little things correctly in order to compete. Things like not turning the ball over and not making mental errors. The Jays aren't doing the little things correctly on top of not making shots and having empty possessions with stagnant ball movement. When you're not as athletic as the other team, you need to hit your open shots and play within yourself, something last year's team did phenomenally. That was the power of Doug McDermott.
3. Is this a must win for the Pirates? Why or why not?
SSJ: For the long term, of course not. For the short term, absolutely. This would be a massive road win for the Pirates to get, especially coming on the heels of a possible Whitehead return. The Hall would stay ranked, get their most talented player back in the lineup and have some road confidence as they come back to Newark. Seton Hall is taking on a team that is not as tough to defeat at home as they were a year ago, but expect The Link to be packed in Omaha with a ranked team in town. If the Pirates win this game it could be on that we look back on as a vital conference road victory. With a 1-3 road record, we need to see them get a road win in the Big East and I think that will lead to other solid performances on the road. The Hall have shown at times that they can do it, but it is time to finish one off.
AS: This no doubt is a must win for Seton Hall for the present. In a very top-heavy conference like the Big East, every game matters. Seton Hall needs to beat the teams they're supposed to beat, which in this case is Creighton.
4. Creighton is having trouble scoring at times. How do they fix it?
CN: There just might not be enough talent to compensate for their average shooting ways. Last year, this was the best 3-point shooting team in the country. This year, they have just three players shooting above 36.2 percent from the perimeter and one shooting above 40.0 percent. That's Isaiah Zierden, who has a mark of 40.2 percent on his 102 3-point attempts. The Jays are still taking 3-pointers at a high rate -- 10th highest in the country in 3PT Rate at 46.3 percent -- but they just are not falling. I think at this point, 16 games into the season, we can't necessarily attribute this to bad luck. Remedying it might just mean taking quality chances and not jacking up points. But considering 36.7 percent of Bluejay points come from 3-pointers, it's hard to imagine they're just going to stop. They just haven't been efficient in making their attempts, and that might just be because of the cast.
DR: The Bluejays simply don't have many scorers. Isaiah Zierden is cold right now so perhaps seeing a guy like him or Toby Hegner go on a tear could help. But the Jays don't have a scoring presence inside really and they're not making the shots the need to make. If you compare last year's team to this year's team, there's many obvious differences. But something that hasn't been noticed enough I don't think is that the passing is down. Movement without the ball is key and when players stand around on offense, the player with the ball has to dribble and force something, a part of the game the Jays aren't good at anyway. The Bluejays need to move the ball better and find shooters in rhythm.
5. Who wins and which player will be the difference?
SSJ: Seton Hall looks to make it 3-0 coming off of losses this season and I think that they will get it done behind Angel Delgado. Creighton has no one that can rebound with him or matchup with him. Delgado has been one of the more consistent players for The Hall on the road and had 12 points to lead the Pirates against Xavier. He has a big game on the glass and the Pirates will bounce back in addition to improving their road record.
AS: I think Seton Hall wins by a hefty margin. They came out flat against Xavier and I believe that Kevin Willard addressed that after the loss. Look for Gibbs to bounce back but I also think Angel Delgado could have a big game inside.
CN: I see Seton Hall winning and I don't know if it's going to be that close. There's such a stark contrast in talent with this team compared to Creighton's, and SHU is one of the best defenses in the country. What's worse is that they're 2nd in Division 1 in 3-point defense. When you take into account what's been said about Creighton's 3-point shooting ways, this could spell a recipe for disaster if no adaptation is made to the game plan. As for who I think will be a difference maker, Sterling Gibbs is an easy choice here. I think he has his way with the Bluejays on Saturday.
DR: I think Creighton finds a way here somehow. I don't see Creighton losing three of their last four home games. Even bad shooting teams have games where they're hot. On a neutral court or at Seton Hall, the Pirates win. But I think the coaching staff is stressing do or die tomorrow and I actually think Creighton matches up well with Seton Hall even in their current four game funk. Austin Chatman plays well and the Jays win by four. Or CU gets blown out and I continue wishing it was 2015-16 when redshirt transfers Maurice Watson, Jr. and Cole Huff are eligible.