Something about the unfriendly confines of Cintas Center must comfort Myles Powell.
The senior guard has played three games at the home of the Xavier Musketeers and has scored 26, 30, and 25 points. The first two totals, from his freshman and sophomore years respectively, were good for season highs. In three home games against Xavier, Powell has averaged just 12 points a game.
While Powell’s production in Cintas Center might have only helped the Pirates to one win in three tries (and Powell is just 2-4 against the Musketeers overall), Seton Hall has had its share of success against Xavier. It is the only non-Villanova Big East program to have a winning record against the Musketeers since they joined the Big East in 2013, going 7-6 over that span.
Tale of the Tape
Seton Hall Profile
- Record: 10-4, 2-0 in BE (KenPom: 18th, 25th)
- Coach: Kevin Willard, 10th Season (180-132 at Seton Hall)
- KenPom AdjOffense: 106.5 (53rd)
- KenPom AdjDefense: 86.8 (9th)
- KenPom AdjTempo: 71.1 (107th)
- Three Point %: 34.9% (94th)
- Record: 12-3, 1-1 in BE (KenPom: 32nd, NET: 40th)
- Coach: Travis Steele, 2nd season (31-19)
- KenPom AdjO: 105.3 (68th)
- KenPom AdjD: 88.9 (20th)
- KenPom AdjT: 70.2 (146th)
- Three Point %: 29.7% (299th)
- Seton Hall leads 10-8 overall
- Seton Hall leads 7-6 since Xavier joined Big East in 2013
Things to watch for
- Mighty Morphin’ Musketeers: While Seton Hall has had to change their identity on the fly due to injuries, Xavier is slowly rounding into a finished product. Just in the last week, there have been three key developments: the transfer of freshman guard Dahmir Bishop, the emergence of freshman guard Kyky Tandy, and the out-of-nowhere performance of sophomore forward Dontarius James. The latter two are huge. Tandy can be the knock-down shooter that the Musketeers clearly lack as evidenced by their sub-30% three-point percentage. James easily had the best game of his career Sunday against St. John’s. While his confidence shooting exceeds his range, James’ athleticism and physicality were a welcome replacement of junior forward Jason Carter’s largely ineffective minutes.
- Opposing shutdown defenses: With Powell being hampered by a couple of injuries thus far and double-digit scorer Sandro Mamukelashvili missing the last five games with a broken wrist, it’s no surprise that the Pirates have had occasions where they struggled to put the ball in the net. They’ve more than made up for it on the other end of the court, holding opponents to the 17th-best effective field goal percentage in the country. Xavier ranks as the 18th-best team in that metric. The two teams’ approaches are a tad different. Seton Hall will play a trio of guys over 6’10” to stifle opponents down low and rank tenth nationally in blocks. Xavier’s lengthy guards and wings help shutdown opponent’s long-range games, opponents shoot just 27.9% from deep against the Musketeers.
- Despite the Pirates size, might have an edge on the boards: Seton Hall ranks in the bottom half nationally in defensive rebounding percentage and Xavier ranks in the top-20% at pounding the offensive glass. Senior forward Tyrique Jones deserves much of that credit, though he’ll have his hands full dealing with the Pirates’ size.
Time/Place: 8:30 p.m. at Cintas Center
Line: Xavier -2.5
As neither team plays at a particularly quick pace and rate as plus defensive outfits, the under seems like the best play. Beyond that, a couple factors might lean Xavier’s way. So long as Myles Powell doesn’t single-handedly wreck Xavier’s biggest strength with its perimeter defense, then there aren’t many other Pirates that should scare the Musketeers. From a motivation standpoint, Xavier probably needs this more than Seton Hall does. The Pirates are 2-0 in conference and have a nice win over Maryland, Xavier doesn’t really have much on the resume at this point. With the spread so close, perhaps there’s a little value on the more desperate and home side.
Xavier 67, Seton Hall 62