Butler Bulldogs (19-11, 9-8) vs. Seton Hall Pirates (20-10, 9-8)
WHERE: Prudential Center, Newark, NJ
WHEN: 8 p.m.
TV: CBS Sports Network (Rich Waltz and Jordan Cornette)
LINE: SHU -1.5
ALL-TIME: Butler leads 7-3
It will be an emotional night inside Prudential Center, as the transcendent senior quartet of Angel Delgado, Desi Rodriguez, Khadeen Carrington and Ismael Sanogo will be honored on Senior Night. However, the Pirates will be without at least one of these guys on Saturday night.
Sanogo will not play after suffering an ankle injury in Wednesday’s overtime loss to Villanova. As for Rodriguez, who has been out since last Wednesday against Providence, is once again a game-time decision with an ankle injury of his own.
The Pirates will also be without freshman point guard Jordan Walker for the second straight game as he deals with a thumb injury. Fellow freshman Myles Cale cramped up after a dunk in overtime on Wednesday, but he is expected to play tonight.
Simply put, the Pirates are banged up. However, they were banged up on Wednesday night as well, and they were able to hang in there with the No. 4 team in the country, and probably should have beaten them.
However, they face another test tonight against the Butler Bulldogs in a game with serious Big East Tournament seeding implications. If the Pirates win, they will be either the three or four seed, depending on other results. If they lose, they could finish as low as seventh.
As for Butler, they could finish anywhere from fourth to sixth.
Seton Hall has injuries working against them, however history is not on their side in this matchup either. Butler leads the all-time series 7-3, with all meetings coming since league realignment. However, Butler is a perfect 4-0 inside Prudential Center.
Last time these two met up back in January, the Pirates pulled one out in Hinkle with a 90-87 win over the Bulldogs. In that game, Khadeen Carrington led all scorers with 29 points, while Angel Delgado put up a double-double with 28 points and 15 rebounds. Kelan Martin led Butler with 27 points in that game, while Kamar Baldwin put up 14 points and five assists.
For Butler, it’s going to come down to how Martin and Baldwin play. Martin is one of the leading scorers in the conference, and Baldwin has developed into one of the top point guards in the Big East all season.
If Seton Hall is without Rodriguez, it’s going to be tough to match Butler offensively. Like Wednesday, Seton Hall would need to win this game on the defensive end of the floor. That’s easier said than done with Sanogo out of action, the defensive anchor for the Pirates, however Michael Nzei has started 14 games this season and typically does a solid job when called upon in situations like this.
With major implications on both sides, expect another close contest inside the Prudential Center tonight.