As snow hammers the Northeast, and causes some teams to push around their schedules, basketball will live on in the great city of Cincinnati. And not just any basketball, but a clash of two of the Big East's best, or at least it would appear.
There is no question that Xavier (16-2, 4-2 Big East) is an elite program in the conference, even if its 81-72 home loss to Georgetown on Tuesday is still stingy the pallets of the X faithful. Meanwhile, Seton Hall (13-5, 3-3) is fresh off an astoundingly strong upset effort against Big East front-runner Villanova, which came just a bucket short of turning into the biggest win of the Pirates' season.
Lucky enough for them (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it), they don't have to wait long at all to get a chance to knock off a top five program. Here are all the details you need for Saturday's tilt.
How to watch, listen, stream, receive smoke signals with game information
Game time: 2 p.m. ET
Radio: 700 WLW-AM (Xavier) || 89.5 WSOU (Seton Hall)
Stream: Fox Sports Go (where available)
Smoke signals: Unlikely
Line: The line opened at 9.5 points but has since dropped to 8.5 in most locations. The Wynn has Xavier as a 9-point favorite. All spread info comes from OddsShark, per the usual.
Record ATS: Seton Hall 11-6, Xavier 12-6
O/U: The O/U opened at 149. Sure enough, the folks at BetDSI have it as 149.5.
Three things to watch
1. Bounce Back Time
This is only the second time this season Xavier has entered a game coming off a loss. The first time came after the BIG EAST opener when the Musketeers were run out of state of Pennsylvania by 'Nova (95-64). The loss to Georgetown was much less brutal (81-72), but dropping a game at home is not the mark of a Top 5 team.
To be fair, Xavier could have (and some would argue, should have) won that game. While the Hoyas shot an efficient 51 percent from the floor and Xavier only hit on 35.3 percent, the Musketeers only turned the ball over five times and outscored the Hoyas on second chance points (15-8) and points off turnovers (10-6).
A little more efficiency on offense will put the X back in cruise control. As a team netting 44.6 percent from the field overall and leading the Big East in scoring during league play (76 PPG), that shouldn't be too difficult, especially with the Xavier faithful behind it once again.
2. Put Up or Shut Up
Seton Hall is desperately trying to prove that it has turned over a new leaf as a program. These Pirates do not want to be yet another team that starts strong and fades out of consequence. Even though they only lost by a point to 'Nova, it was still their third setback in the last four outings. Helping keep the arrow pointed up is the fact that the one win in that stretch was at Providence, but one resume-boosting win and a litany of losses does not make for an NCAA Tournament caliber resume.
3. Desi Does It
In conference play, Xavier has had trouble defending the 3--point shot. The Musketeers are ninth in the Big East in 3-pointers allowed (52) and eighth in opponent 3-point shooting percentage (35.6 percent). For a team like Villanova, that's great news, as it has a roster filled with 3-point marksmen.
Seton Hall is not nearly as effective from long range, shooting just 33.8 percent from such a distance. Isaiah Whitehead (31 percent) and Khadeen Carrington (34.7 percent) sure like to let it fly, but its Desi Rodriguez that is the team's more potent triple creator. He has netted 20-of-49 attempts this season, including a 3-for-4 effort against Villanova on Wednesday.
If Seton Hall is going to pull off what appears to be an impossible upset, Rodriguez's shooting may be a key.