Returning from another fruitless trip to Villanova, where Seton Hall has not won in 20 years, the Pirates begin a critical three-game home stand when they face Marquette tomorrow night at Prudential Center.
Since their second half run fell short of clipping the Golden Eagles a month ago at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, Seton Hall (13-10, 4-6) and Marquette have both alternated between victories and losses. Marquette (13-10, 5-5) has not played since outscoring Butler by 10 over the last quarter of play in a come-from-behind win in Milwaukee one week ago. Marquette has toppled Georgetown and Providence since January 11th, but also dropped games to Butler, Villanova, and St. John's, two of which came in overtime (although the Villanova game should have never reached OT).
At the moment, Marquette finds themselves outside of the projected field of 68, giving them plenty of motivation to start stringing wins together in order to prevent their first NCAA tournament-less season since 2004-05. Buzz Williams' team has not won consecutive games since dispatching IUPUI and Ball State (both sub-300 KenPom) in mid-December.
In their last meeting, Seton Hall looked unconvincing on offense in the first half before picking the tempo up via turnovers and scoring 40 second half points as a result. The Pirates were without center Gene Teague, resulting in an 18-10 rebounding disadvantage in the first half, indicative of no presence on the offensive glass. With Aaron Geramipoor and Fuquan Edwin still less than 100-percent due to injuries and Brandon Mobley in foul trouble, Marquette had a distinct advantage within the arc, one of their strengths.
The Golden Eagles were 3-15 from beyond the arc against Seton Hall, which is an accurate reflection of their inability to hurt teams from deep. Marquette ranks last in three-point percentage (27.8%) against Big East opponents and 331st (29.6%) overall. Over their last three games, Marquette is 12-44 (27%) from three-point land, right on par for the season. Unlike Kevin Willard's strategy of trading three-pointers for layups against Villanova, it looks like he will have to do the inverse tomorrow night.
Marquette relies on collective scoring, though forwards Davante Gardner (14.6 ppg, 6 rpg) and Jamil Wilson (11.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg) have delivered more consistently than their teammates. Off the bench, Todd Mayo (9.5 ppg) is a threat to score 20 and impact a game, or see only a couple of minutes on the floor. Over his last seven games, Mayo has scored 19, 18, and 17 against Seton Hall, Villanova, and Butler, respectively. In contrast, Mayo has scored 4, 6, 8, and 0 points in the other four games during this stretch. Mayo tallied 10 points in the closing minutes against Villanova, nearly stealing the game single-handedly for the Golden Eagles. Point guard Derrick Wilson (5.3 ppg, 4.1 apg) is another player to watch tomorrow night. Not known for his scoring, Wilson has averaged 6.3 apg over his last four games with the rock in his hands, while racking up ten steals and just ten turnovers (2.5 AST:TO) during the same span.
With both teams' backs to the proverbial wall, expect every rebound and possession to be valued tomorrow night. Seton Hall's squadron of forwards underperformed against a more agile, pass-happy Villanova side on Friday night and will have to rebound, in every sense of the word. Patrik Auda and Stephane Manga played well against Marquette last time around with most of the pressure on their shoulders -- they now have a healthy Gene Teague and Aaron Geramipoor to support them on the block.
Any type of post-season aspirations and/or preferable seeding in the Big East Tournament hinges upon Seton Hall's need to win at least two of their next three games at the absolute minimum. Marquette, St. John's, and Georgetown, the Hall's next three opponents, all sit directly above the Pirates in the Big East standings, keeping them from a top-6 finish and with it, a first round bye in the Big East Tournament. From the opposite perspective, Marquette must begin the home stretch of their Big East schedule with their first Big East win streak of the season if they want to make any noise as a bubble team over the next month. The high stakes serve this contest up as all-important before Seton Hall's rematch with cross-river rival St. John's on Thursday.
Kevin Willard is 1-5 against Marquette as head coach of Seton Hall with his lone win coming in comfortable fashion on Jeremy Hazell's Senior Night in 2011; Seton Hall has dropped their last four to Marquette.
Series history (MU 12-2):
Jan. 11th, 2014, Marquette 67, Seton Hall 66, Milwaukee, Wis.
Feb. 19th, 2013, Marquette, 67, Seton Hall 46, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 16th, 2013, Marquette 69, Seton Hall 62, Milwaukee, Wis.
Jan. 31st, 2012, Marquette 66, Seton Hall 59, Milwaukee, Wis.
March 5, 2011, SETON HALL 85, Marquette 72, Newark, N.J.
Feb. 19, 2011, Marquette 73, SETON HALL 64, Milwaukee, Wis.
Feb. 28, 2010, Marquette 84, SETON HALL 83 (ot), Newark, N.J.
Feb. 17, 2009, Marquette 79, SETON HALL 67, Milwaukee, Wis.
March 12, 2008, Marquette 67, SETON HALL 54, New York, N.Y.
Feb. 12, 2008, Marquette 89, SETON HALL 64, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 8, 2008, Marquette 61, SETON HALL 56, Milwaukee, Wis.
Jan. 24, 2007, Marquette 89, SETON HALL 76, Milwaukee, Wis.
Jan. 11, 2006, Marquette 67, SETON HALL 63, East Rutherford, N.J.
March 17, 1956, SETON HALL 96, Marquette 78, New York, N.Y.
KenPom Says: No. 82 Seton Hall - 68, No. 56 Marquette - 66 (57%)
Projected Marquette Starters:
6-1 Jr., PG - Derrick Wilson (5.3 ppg, 4.1 apg, 3.8 rpg)
6-3 Sr., G - Jake Thomas (7 ppg, 42-122 3pt)
6-5 Fr., G/F - JaJuan Johnson (4.9 ppg)
6-7 Sr., F - Jamil Wilson (11.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 21-71 3pt)
6-8 Sr., C - Davante Gardner (14.6 ppg, 6 rpg)
When: Tuesday, 7 p.m. local time
TV: FOX Sports 1
Radio: AM 970