In what many expected to be a down season for Seton Hall, coach Kevin Willard has his Pirates rolling at just the right time. After upsetting Marquette on Wednesday night, Seton Hall looks primed for the NCAA Tournament. Wins over Kentucky, Maryland, and Marquette have buoyed their otherwise average record. Nevertheless, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the Pirates in as a #11 seed, and as one of the last four byes.
Villanova on the other hand remains a lock for the NCAA Tournament. This will be there seventh straight bid to the big dance. Heading into this final regular season game in New Jersey, the Wildcats are hoping to improve their seeding.
Earlier this season when these two squared off, the Wildcats stomped on Seton Hall by a 80-52 score. Villanova’s Phil Booth put up 25 points, and the Pirates left Philadelphia a big loser.
Although Villanova shelled the Pirates last time out, playing at Seton Hall is not a small order. Seton Hall just beat nationally-ranked Marquette on their home floor, and still could be riding the momentum.
For Seton Hall to win, they need to play a solid defensive game. According to KenPom, the Pirates have the third most efficient defense in the Big East. They slow teams down, force opponents to turn the ball over, block plenty of shots, and pressure the other team into a bad shot. When coach Willard’s bunch is doing that defensively, they become a tough team to beat.
For Villanova, they will look to counter with their potent offensive unit. KenPom ranks the Wildcats as the best offensive team in the Big East. Head coach Jay Wright’s club will slow the pace of the game down and hurt you from deep. Almost 43% of their total points this season have come from beyond the arc. As a team, they are shooting 35% from deep. Villanova does a nice job limiting turnovers, and working it around until they find a good shot. Against a strong defensive team like Seton Hall, it will be important to get the offense clicking early.
Before the contest is over, do not be surprised to hear from Seton Hall guard Myles Powell. Last time out against Marquette he scored 34 points while shooting 44% from the field. He is one of the toughest guys to guard in the whole country. Joining him in the Seton Hall backcourt is junior guard Quincy McKnight. This Connecticut product is averaging about 10 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds per game. He has good vision and can set up his teammates for a bucket.
Out of the Seton Hall frontcourt, watch out for senior Michael Nzei. He is averaging around 9 points, 5 rebounds, and 1 assist per game. He is joined in the frontcourt by Sandro Mamukelashvili, who has averaged about 9 points and 7 rebounds per game.
For Villanova, the usual suspects remain a key component of their team. Senior guard Phil Booth has played very well this season, averaging about 19 points, 4 assists, and 4 rebounds per game. He is complemented well by forward Eric Paschall who is averaging about 17 points per game, while leading the Wildcats in rebounds. He is a versatile forward who can put it on the floor, shoot from distance, or be a bully inside.
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