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Garden State Hardwood Classic Preview: Rutgers vs. Seton Hall

Seton Hall looks to win the Garden Hardwood Classic for the third straight year.

NCAA Basketball: Seton Hall at Rutgers Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most overlooked rivalries in college basketball is the Garden State Hardwood classic between Rutgers and Seton Hall.

There is no love lost between these two Garden State programs; throughout the years there have been clotheslines, bench clearing altercations, awkward post game handshakes between coaches, and trash talking during post game press conferences.

In his first year as head coach at Rutgers, Steve Pikiell has his team currently sitting at 11-1. Rutgers has already eclipsed their win total from last season (seven), while the Pirates enter the match--up 9-2.

How to Watch, Listen and Stream

TV: Fox Sports 1 (Brian Custer, Donny Marshall)

Radio: AM 970, XM 3811, FM WSOU 89.5

Stream: Fox Sports Go

Gamblin’ Info

The Pirates come into the game favored by 10. The over/under is set at 139.5. Both numbers are per OddsShark.

All Time Series

Seton Hall leads the series in this historic rivalry, 38-29.

Things to Watch For......

Controlled Emotions

Seton Hall has cruised to victory in this battle the past two years, but Rutgers is coming in very confident with their 11-1 record. With that being said, Rutgers has played a rather very weak schedule as they are ranked 350th out of 351 teams per KenPom in SOS right now. For Rutgers, this is by far their biggest game of the nonconference season. Seton Hall must be prepared to fight and play hard throughout the whole game, as Rutgers is not to be taken lightly. In front of a sold-out crowd of over 10,000 fans it will come down to which team will be more composed. Will Seton Hall stay composed when an upset minded Rutgers team starts off with a lot of energy, or will Rutgers lose composure early and get blown out of the building once again by Seton Hall?

Seton Hall’s Defense

The obvious strategy for Seton Hall will be to pack the paint on defense and force Rutgers to take contested outside jump shots. Per KenPom, Rutgers is ranked 316th in the nation from beyond the arc at 29% this season. On defense, Seton Hall will look to clog the lanes as 61% of Rutgers scoring comes inside the arc. Ish Sanogo, Madison Jones and Jevon Thomas (making his debut as a Pirate) will look to slow down Rutgers offensive threats Mike Williams, Deshawn Freeman and Corey Sanders.

Jevon Thomas Debut

Guard Jevon Thomas will be making his long awaited debut for the Pirates, most likely coming off of the bench often Friday evening. While Seton Hall is very solid offensively at the guard between Khadeen Carrington and Myles Powell, Thomas will be looked upon to add more on ball pressure alongside Madison Jones.

Double-Double Match Up

Both teams feature double-double machines, Seton Hall’s Angel Delgado comes in with seven while Rutgers Deshawn Freeman comes in with six. If Delgado has his way down low, it will be a long night for Rutgers. On the other hand, Freeman’s double-doubles have come against teams that are not nearly as long and physical as Seton Hall. In fact, in Rutgers’ only loss against Miami Freeman only grabbed four rebounds. Seton Hall will have the physicality and length similar to as what Freeman saw against Miami. It will be interesting to see if Freeman can step up and play Angel Delgado well.