How to Watch
Time: 12:00 PM ET
Radio: 97-9 ESPN
Location: Gampel Pavilion
Records: UConn 8-3 (5-3) | Seton Hall 10-8 (7-5)
Spread: Seton Hall +1.5
ATS Records: UConn (9-2) | Seton Hall (11-7)
Kenpom Rankings: UConn – 29 |Seton Hall – 37
We all know the history here. Dan Hurley played his college ball and Seton Hall and is currently 0-2 against his alma matter, though these games took place when he was the head coach at URI. Can Hurley get his first victory over Seton Hall as the UConn Huskies and Seton Hall Pirates look to finally square off for the first time since the old Big East dissolved. UConn has dominated this matchup, coming in with a 44-19 record against Seton Hall, including a 78-67 victory in their previous matchup almost eight years ago. However, Kevin Willard and Seton Hall have dramatically improved since then and Seton Hall might be the best 10-8 team in the country (Maryland might have an argument here).
The Huskies last played and defeated Butler about a week and a half ago before going on a COVID-19 pause. Like many teams, the virus hasn’t been kind to UConn. Meanwhile, Seton Hall is getting ready to play their 19th game, and fourth since UConn last played. The Huskies still have injury concerns (don’t expect to see Bouknight and probably little to no Akok Akok), but we will finally get to see Andre Jackson in the mix. Will the Huskies be prepared and refreshed coming off yet another break?
Seton Hall has had an up and down season after getting off to a slow start. Injuries have hampered their success as well. The Pirates are coming off a solid, but ugly, win over Providence. But a win is a win, especially after Seton Hall had dropped their previous three games (2 against Villanova, and 1 against Creighton). The Pirates enter the contest with the 19th ranked adjusted offense in the country (3rd in the Big East, per Kenpom), but struggle to guard the 3-point line on defense.
Seton Hall is led by forward Sandro Mamukelashvili (17.7 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 3.2 APG) and a strong supporting cast including Jarden Rhoden (14.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG) and Myles Cale (12.5 PPG, 3.7 RPG). Bryce Aiken has also been back and he and Shavar Reynolds can be dynamic guards. Shutting down, or at least slowing down Mamukelashvili is a tall task; I bet we see Isaiah Whaley take on this challenge. UConn’s team defense will have to step up if they want to take down the Pirates.
There isn’t a whole lot to say about UConn here. UConn’s game plan starts and ends on the defensive end of the floor. Hurley has continually said that the Huskies need to play grind-it-out, low scoring games especially without their leading scorer James Bouknight. So far, the Huskies have answered the call for the most part. UConn ranks 28th nationally in adjusted defense (1st in the Big East) and will have to continue their impressive defensive efforts to remain competitive and near the top of the Big East. Look for Tyrese Martin, RJ Cole and others to continue to emerge as offensive options. I also expect that we will see Jalen Gaffney’s minutes increase. He looked calmer and more poised in his lasting outing against Butler, a welcomed sign for Husky fans.
The Huskies predicate their game on the defensive end but look for UConn to get hot from deep against Seton Hall. UConn shot 50% from deep against Butler and Seton Hall struggles to guard the line. If the Huskies can take advantage, that would be a recipe for success. I would like to see them start by feeding Adama Sanogo inside which might help open the three-point line. This game will be a battle, but the Huskies prevail.