No. 3 Seton Hall Pirates (21-10, 10-8) vs. No. 6 Butler Bulldogs (19-12, 9-9)
WHERE: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
WHEN: Approx. 9:30 p.m.
TV: FS1 (Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery)
LINE: Butler -1
ALL-TIME: Butler leads 7-4
They meet again.
For the second time in six days, Seton Hall and Butler will do battle. They met on Saturday, a 77-70 victory for Seton Hall that held major Big East Tournament seeding implications. The win gave the Pirates the three seed in the tournament, whereas a loss would have dropped them to seventh.
Coming into this one, Seton Hall is vying for their third straight year with a Big East Tournament victory, while Butler is still searching for their first ever Big East Tournament win.
Butler does come in as the favorite in this one, as they have arguably the best player on either side in Kelan Martin. The First Team All Big East honoree averaged 23.6 PPG in conference play and scored in double figures in all but two games this season. His backcourt-mate Kamar Baldwin has had a breakout season this year, averaging 15 PPG and 3.2 APG.
The Pirates come in banged up but encouraged after taking down Butler on Saturday without leading scorer Desi Rodriguez and top defender Ismael Sanogo. Both of them will be back Thursday night, and could pack that extra punch that the Pirates need.
The question with the return of Rodriguez to the offensive gameplan is how will point guard Khadeen Carrington respond. In his last four games, one of which was the Providence game in which Rodriguez was injured, Carrington is averaging 23.8 PPG, 3.8 APG and is shooting 47 percent from the field.
Martin has been a Pirate killer this season for Butler, averaging 31 PPG against Seton Hall over the two meetings this season, including a 35-point performance on Saturday. Furthermore, the senior is averaging 21.2 PPG against the Pirates over their last six meetings.
The Pirates were able to hold the rest of the Butler attack in check aside from Martin, as Tyler Wideman was the only other Bulldog to score in double digits on Saturday.
Two things worked in the Pirates’ favor last matchup. One was their ability to take care of the basketball, something that has gotten them into trouble in close games in the past. The Pirates only committed eight turnovers on Saturday.
Secondly, Seton Hall shot an absurd 70 percent from the field in the second half, one in which they tallied 46 points. Once their offense gets hot, there’s no stopping them. They carry that momentum onto the defensive side of the ball, and they become an even more difficult team to play against.
Expect a close one in The Garden tonight, with the winner set to face off with the winner of the Marquette/Villanova showdown.