Seton Hall (19-10, 9-8 Big East) enters Saturday amidst a tight race for playoff seeding. The No. 3-6 seeds are far from being decided, especially when only a one-game margin separates four different teams (Creighton, Seton Hall, Providence, and Marquette).
A Seton Hall win would guarantee a spot in the 4-5 matchup of the Big East Tournament quarterfinals. However, a loss on Saturday would virtually lock-in their place as a 6-seed.
While there is a lot of uncertainty for the Pirates going into the regular season finale, the same can't be said for No. 13 Butler (23-6, 12-5 Big East), who has already captured the second-seed for the Big East Tournament.
Despite this, don't expect the Bulldogs to take it easy. They will celebrate their Senior Night on Saturday, and that should provide more than enough motivation to not turn on cruise control and coast to the regular season finish line.
How to watch, listen, and stream
Game Time: Saturday, March 4, 2017, at 2:30 p.m. ET
TV: FOX (Joe Davis, Len Elmore)
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go (Where available)
According to Oddsshark.com, Butler is a 9-point favorite over Seton Hall.
The Bulldogs currently lead the all-time series 7-1. As a matter of fact, head coach Chris Holtmann is a perfect 5-0 when his 'Dogs play the Pirates.
Earlier this season, Butler downed Seton Hall at the Prudential Center on Jan. 25, winning 61-54.
What to Watch For
Another Ugly One?
The last time these two teams met, spectators who watched the game were unsure of calling it a defensive showdown or just an ugly, cold-shooting performance on offense. It was probably a combination of both.
Butler had its best showing on defense against Seton Hall, who couldn't get many shots to fall on the Bulldogs. The Pirates were 18-of-63 (28.6 percent) overall--the lowest shooting percentage for a Butler opponent this season. This also includes a mediocre 4-of-24 (16.7 percent) from deep.
Angel Delgado was a monster on the boards, racking up 22 rebounds to complement his 12 points, but his effort alone was not enough to propel Seton Hall to victory.
As for Butler, it was far from perfect. The Pirates returned the favor and gave them a tough time on the floor, holding the 'Dogs to shooting a season-low 35.2 percent on the floor.
To top it all off, both teams were subpar from the free throw line, where the Bulldogs were 15-of-27 (55.6 percent). Meanwhile, the Pirates converted their free throws at a better rate, but the 14-of-24 (58.3 percent) showing left much more to be desired.
What will happen now?
Working Around the Double-Double Machine
At this point, it's safe to assume Angel Delgado is going to produce. Delgado, the nation's leader in rebounding (13.0 boards per game), has had a double-double in 22 of the last 23 games.
In their previous meeting, Delgado finished with 12 points and 22 rebounds. He was 3-of-8 for the game and took fewer shots than usual, below his average of 11 shot takes per game.
The 6-10 junior big man didn't get much help. The Pirates other top producers--Khadeen Carrington and Desi Rodriguez were quiet. They scored 12 points each, but combined for an ugly 9-of-34 on the floor, including a 1-of-12 showing from deep.
If Seton Hall wants to win, it will need much more out of its top scorers than that.
As for Butler, replicating a similar result as the Jan. 25 game against Seton Hall may be the way to go. The Bulldogs can try to slow down the big man--or opt to let the double-double machine go to work--but it will be vital to take away the Pirates' other weapons whichever route they choose to take.
Sixth Man Kelan Martin
Martin's transition from the starting rotation to the bench is one that turned heads and raised some questions, but the junior forward has refined his play as the team's sixth man.
Since being benched in the second half after an ugly one-point performance against Marquette on Feb. 7, he has heated up.
Over the last five games, he is averaging 17.6 points per game and 7.4 rebounds per game. His strong play earned him Big East Player of the Week honors, and deservedly so. He enters Saturday coming off of back-to-back 20-point games and a combined 16-of-26 shooting over the previous two wins against Villanova and Xavier.
He's thriving in his new role--or rather, in his return to the bench. Martin played a big role off the bench in his freshman season. Two years later, he's playing even better.