New Hampshire Wildcats (2-6, 0-0) vs. Seton Hall Pirates (4-3, 0-0)
Where: Prudential Center, Newark, NJ
When: 6:30 p.m.
TV: FS1 (Brian Custer and Jim Spanarkel)
Line: SHU -26.5
Series: Seton Hall leads 2-0
The Pirates December schedule is a gauntlet. The month began with a home matchup with Louisville and former Xavier coach Chris Mack. However, Kentucky, a sneaky home matchup with Rutgers, and Maryland still await.
For much of Saturday, it looked as if the Pirates were in control against the Cardinals. However, poor shooting down the stretch, and poor three-point shooting for the entire game, doomed the Pirates as they fell to 4-3 on the young season.
Going into this season, Pirates fans knew these December games would be tough, and a loss on Saturday in a game that Seton Hall controlled for much of the time is a tough pill to swallow.
Tonight’s matchup with New Hampshire is a chance to hit the reset button. This is a Wildcats squad that is not very good. After starting the season 2-1, UNH has lost five straight, including a defeat on Saturday to a then 1-5 Bryant squad. UNH led by 10 at halftime and by as many as 14 in the second half before coughing up the lead to lose by 10.
So, essentially both of these teams are in need of a bounce back performance. Unfortunately for UNH, they won’t have that tonight.
The Wildcats have been unable to find a consistent starting five this season, having used a different lineup in each of their last six games. Of the 14 players that have appeared in a game so far this season for UNH, nine of them have started at least one game.
Conversely, it’s been the same five all season for Kevin Willard’s crew, however the Pirates will need improved guard play from Quincy McKnight in this one. The Sacred Heart transfer has been inconsistent to start the season, putting up a trio of double-digit scoring games, two of which saw him dish out over four assists as well. However, on Saturday he got himself into foul trouble, which not only forced him to have a quiet game, but also meant freshman Anthony Nelson had to step into the spotlight on national television against a tough opponent.
Of course, the Pirates do have Myles Powell, who is averaging 24.1 PPG through seven games this season. He struggled from deep against Louisville on Saturday, shooting just 2-for-12 from downtown, but still managed to score 23 points.
The only thing that could save UNH in this game in three-point shooting. They have shot 37 percent from deep as a team so far this season, and have made a conference-best 9.3 threes per game. However, with a defense that allows 75.5 PPG and lets opponents shoot 46 percent from the floor, it is bound to be a rough night for the Wildcats.
This will be a good tune-up for the Pirates on their home floor ahead of their biggest matchup to date, when they head to Madison Square Garden on Saturday to face No. 9 Kentucky. Tonight is a chance to work out all the kinks, and the Pirates should be able to do so and win handily.