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Advocare Invitational: Seton Hall vs. Florida Preview

The 3-0 Pirates travel to Orlando to take on the 4-0 Gators in the opening round of the Thanksgiving Weekend Tournament.

NCAA Basketball: Seton Hall at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off of a 91-83 Gavitt Games victory in Iowa City, the Seton Hall Pirates are set to take on their second straight power-conference opponent in the Florida Gators on Thanksgiving night in Orlando. It’s just the third meeting between these two opponents, and the first since the Gators won 70-68 in 1987.

Although they’re guaranteed three games in Disney World this weekend, the Pirates will kick themselves if they miss on this chance to impress the selection committee. Should they win, they’ll face the winner of Gonzaga and Quinnipiac; should they lose, they’ll face the loser of the latter game.

Here’s the lowdown for Thursday night’s tilt:

How to Watch, Listen or Stream

Tip-Off Time: 8:30 p.m.

TV Network: ESPN2

Radio: AM 970 for Seton Hall, Gator IMG Sports Network for Florida

Gamblin’ Info

- Via OddsShark, Florida opens up as a 2.5 point favorite

- Seton Hall is 1-1 Against the Spread this year, while Florida comes in 3-1 ATS

AdvoCare Invitational Info

While it hasn’t received the same amount of fanfare as other preseason tournaments, the AdvoCare is quietly stacked with potential NCAA Tournament teams. Seton Hall, Florida, Gonzaga, and Quinnipiac occupy one half of the bracket, while the other half consists of Indiana State, Iowa State, Stanford, and Miami.

Each team will play three games regardless of their previous results, and the Invitational culminates on Sunday afternoon at 1:30.

Three Keys

1. Guard Play

The strength of both teams lies in their guard play. For Florida, graduate transfer and sixth man Canyon Berry leads the team in scoring with 13.3 points per game, and he shoots the ball from distance at a 33 percent clip. Starters Kasey Hill (6.5 ppg) and KeVaughn Allen (12.3 ppg) help pace the Gator attack as well, giving Mike White a scary three-headed attack in the backcourt.

Seton Hall sports their own three-man attack at guard as well. To say Khadeen Carrington has played like an all-Big East talent would be understating it: over the first three games, he’s averaged 21.7 points per game to go with 3.3 rebounds and 3 assists per contest. Madison Jones, a grad transfer from Wake Forest, is a steady presence in the backcourt as well; he won’t light up the stat sheet, but he’s started all 3 games and has average 5.7 assists in that span. Freshman Myles Powell has been as good as advertised; in fact, he took home Big East freshman of the week following his 26-point outburst at Iowa.

In short, guard play will likely decide who walks away with their perfect record still intact on Thursday night.

2. Who Guards Devin Robinson?

Although he doesn’t lead the Gators in scoring, Devin Robinson is arguably the most talented player who will take the court on Thursday. At 6’8”, the sophomore presents a unique challenge with his ability to score the ball both inside the paint and outside the arc.

For Kevin Willard, the challenge will be finding a formula to slow Robinson down. The likely candidate is junior Desi Rodriguez, who swiped three steals in the victory over Iowa. If that’s the case, the test for Rodriguez will be defense down low; if he fails to slow Robinson there, Willard may have to turn to the more physical Ismael Sanogo to play stopper.

3. Any Ill Effects from the Time Off?

It’s been a week for the Pirates since they last played, so the question arises as to whether there will be any rust to kick off in the early stages. There’s no question that the Pirates match up well with just about any team on paper; the question now is if they show up ready to play tonight.

In addition, the defense gave up 83 points last game; while it shouldn’t be a concern yet, it will be interesting to see if Willard decided to make any adjustments during the week off. Only time will tell if the Pirates benefited or were hurt by the week off, and if they will be ready to go from the first whistle.