Time and Date: Wednesday, February 19 @ 6:30 pm ET
Records: Seton Hall (18-7) | Butler (19-7)
Rankings: Seton Hall (#14 NET) | Butler (#20 NET)
TV Channel: FS1
Watch Online: FOX Sports GO
The last time Seton Hall and Butler met, both were at the height of their powers. Both teams had reeled off six straight wins leading up to that one; the Pirates were ranked #18 at the time while the Bulldogs had climbed as high as #5. Heading into Wednesday’s rematch, it’s a bit of a different story. While both teams are still ranked and both are locks to qualify for the NCAA Tournament field, Seton Hall has lost two straight games and Butler comes in having played just .500 ball over their last 12. The Bulldogs have been decidedly average over the last two months, while the Pirates have been mostly terrific, but have hit a stumbling block recently.
Seton Hall’s problem, according to head coach Kevin Willard, is a lack of focus. He threatened to cut the Pirates’ 10-man rotation down to six if he doesn’t see improvements. It will be interesting to see how Willard manages his rotation after a loss to Providence where his squad seemed somewhat disinterested throughout most of the contest.
Butler’s problem seems to be an utter lack of consistency, dating back to when Aaron Thompson injured his wrist. Thompson is the unquestioned defensive leader for the Bulldogs, and also manages the offense from the point guard position. Butler hasn’t looked quite right ever since losing him to a few games with a wrist injury. Even when he came back, the Dawgs looked a little bit out of sorts. For one half against Xavier, they looked like their old selves again, but in the second half, Thompson sustained a concussion that would take him out of the next game, a loss to Georgetown.
Both teams are hoping these problems will be solved on Wednesday. Willard has sent a public message to his team that should inspire a little bit more urgency. LaVall Jordan, meanwhile announced that Thompson would play Wednesday, barring a setback. Both teams would love to re-announce themselves with a big win against one of the Big East’s top-three teams in NCAA’s NET rankings.
Games between Butler and Seton Hall are almost always thrillers and this one promises to continue the trend.