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Pirates in need of a win ahead of showdown with DePaul

Riding a four game losing streak, the Pirates need to start piling up wins if they want to steer clear of any bubble talk.

NCAA Basketball: Seton Hall at Creighton Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

DePaul Blue Demons (10-15, 3-10) vs. Seton Hall Pirates (17-9, 6-7)

WHERE: Prudential Center, Newark, NJ

WHEN: 1 p.m.

TV: FS1 (Dave Sims, Jim Spanarkel)

LINE: SHU -10.5

ALL-TIME: Pirates lead 15-6

The Seton Hall Pirates enter this one trying to snap a four-game losing streak, their longest such streak since losing six straight down the stretch in the 2014-15 season. Meanwhile, the DePaul Blue Demons look all but locked into playing on Wednesday night in the Big East Tournament, and they come to Newark on Sunday to try and play spoiler.

Sunday with be the 22nd time these two Big East foes go to battle, and every year since 2013 has produced one nailbiter in the season series. Since that year, five of the last nine matchups between the Pirates and Blue Demons have been decided by single digits, with the occurrence happening once per season.

Seton Hall blew out DePaul in Chicago last month. History would prove that today could be closer than many think. Is that what we’re in store for today?

Given Seton Hall’s recent play, it could bear some validity. Though they nearly completed a furious comeback on Wednesday night against Xavier (trailed by as many as 25, cut it to 6), the team has had defensive struggles over their losing streak.

The Pirates are scoring the ball at a high rate over those four games, averaging 82.7 PPG, however they are allowing 91.2 PPG over that same stretch. If they hope to right the ship, the defense has to step up.

DePaul is the right team for Seton Hall to try and fix things with. The Pirates held leading scorer Max Strus to just nine points in their meeting back on January 28, while the Blue Demons were held to just 23 percent from deep.

If DePaul wants to pull off the upset today, it will have to fall on the shoulders of Strus and Eli Cain to outplay Khadeen Carrington and Myles Powell in the backcourt. Carrington has been struggling as of late, but Powell is playing his best ball as a Pirate in recent games. He dropped a career-high 30 points against Xavier on Wednesday in yet another stellar second half performance.

Using Marin Maric to try and stretch out the Pirate defense likely won’t work. Expect Ismael Sanogo or Michael Nzei to be tagged with Maric on the perimeter, leaving Angel Delgado inside to grab rebounds against an undersized Tre’Darius McCallum.

The matchups favor the Pirates, but history shows this one could be close. One thing is for certain, and it’s that Seton Hall really needs this victory to get back on track. After this one, they head on the road for matchups with Providence and St. John’s next week before closing the regular season at home against Villanova and Butler.

If there’s any time for Seton Hall to start gaining momentum, it is right now.