Seton Hall had arguably the most impressive week in school history last week, by dethroning two top-20 teams in Villanova & St. John's to open Big East play. They traveled to the Midwest to take on the always dangerous Xavier Musketeers, who started off 1-1 in Big East play after beating Georgetown and losing to DePaul. After 20 minutes of play at Cintas Center, here's what I observed between both teams:
- Did the hype get to the Pirates? Seton Hall hasn't been ranked inside the top 20 since 2006, long before any players on the roster announced their commitment to the program. In the first five or so minutes of the game, Seton Hall was missing shots that they normally make, and just came out really slow and sluggish. If you've watched the Pirates play this season, you know nothing about them is slow. Also, Sterling Gibbs began the game trying to take too many shots and make too many plays happen, which was also outside of his game.
- Musketeers Winning Battle on Boards As expected, Matt Stainbrook & Trevon Bluiett have been very aggressive on the defensive boards early on against the much smaller Seton Hall. Angel Delgado didn't start the game for the Pirates, as he was in foul trouble for the majority of the game against Villanova. Xavier got off to a quick start on the glass, and really did a good job at limiting the number of chances for Seton Hall.
- Haralds Karlis Could Be a Viable Replacement for Whitehead It came as a little bit of a surprise when the game started that Karlis was in the starting lineup at the small forward position. He quickly proved me wrong by scoring a quick eight points in the first 15 minutes of play, including a couple three-pointers. While the Pirates await the return of their All-American freshman Isaiah Whitehead, they need stability at small forward and Karlis could be the option that Kevin Willard is looking for.
Seton Hall and Xavier head into the second half with a lot to prove. Tune into CBS Sports Network for the final 20 minutes from Cintas Center!