The Seton Hall Pirates and Rutgers Scarlet Knights will clash on Saturday afternoon in the second annual Garden State Hardwood Classic, set to take place at the RAC in Piscataway, New Jersey. Pride and supremacy in the state of New Jersey will be on the line in this year's edition of this in-state rivalry as both teams look to make an imprint in month of December.
Kevin Willard and Seton Hall look to improve to 6-2 on the season, off the heels of a tough road loss to the George Washington Colonials on Wednesday night. Should they make that mark, it would be the fourth time in the last five seasons that The Hall has started a season at 6-2 or better.
Rutgers will look to spoil the fun for their adversaries on Saturday afternoon and look to avenge the last two meetings between the programs. After sweeping Seton Hall in their final season in the BIG EAST Conference, the Scarlet Knights have dropped the last two games to the Pirates by an average margin of 16.5 points, with last year's loss coming by 27 points.
How to watch, listen or stream
Game Time: Noon ET
Online Streaming: This telecast will be available via streaming through WatchESPN.
Radio: AM 970 The Answer, WSOU 89.5 FM (Seton Hall)
WOR 710 AM, WCTC 1450 AM, WRSU 88.7 FM (Rutgers)
Odds: Seton Hall has opened as a 5-point favorite vs. Rutgers via OddsShark.
Records ATS: Seton Hall (3-3) || Rutgers (3-2)
3 things to watch for
1. Another crack at true road win #1: The Pirates were denied a true road win on Wednesday against the George Washington Colonials. So, Saturday will be their second opportunity at getting a victory away from their home in Newark. Intriguingly enough, this is not unfamiliar territory for Seton Hall. In each of the last three seasons, the Pirates did not net their first true road win of the year until their second road game. Last year, the Pirates lost on the road to the Wichita State Shockers and would rebound with a win against former BIG EAST foe South Florida down in Tampa. They'll have to travel a little less this time, but we shall see if this trend continues.
2. Seton Hall's turnovers: The Hall has simply done a poor job at taking care of the basketball this season. They have committed turnovers at a rate of 20.9 percent this year, ranking 287th in the nation in that category. This could wind up being problematic again on Saturday as Rutgers does a good job of forcing turnovers on the defensive side of the ball. The Scarlet Knights defense forces turnovers at a rate of 19.5 percent. That mark is 121st in the country, a full percent above the Division 1 average. Additionally, it ranks third in the Big Ten Conference, with Nebraska and Indiana holding the No. 1 and 2 spots respectively, just above them at 19.6 percent. Suffice it to say: It would behoove Seton Hall to improve their ballhandling skills against Rutgers, because mistakes can and will happen against their adversary's defense.
3. Will Desi's breakthrough continue? Perhaps the biggest part of Seton Hall's 5-2 start has been the play of sophomore Desi Rodriguez. Desi was held to under 11 points for the first time this season against the stingy Colonial defense, only scoring nine with an ORtg of merely 85. Rodriguez can and likely should bounce back against RU but it will not be easy. One of Rutgers' strengths this season has been the play of their defense. Especially so on the perimeter. The Scarlet Knights have allowed a 3-point percentage of just 31.3 percent this year. As it turns out, Rodriguez is the Pirates' best 3-point shooter, netting a field goal percentage of 40.0 percent from long range. Expect this to be one of the big storylines of the matchup and how Rodriguez fares from the perimeter against a tough defense on the outside.