Villanova marks the halfway point of Seton Hall's balanced Big East schedule. In response, our previews from here on out will focus less on scouting an opponent (we've already seen them play!) and more on their recent play, matchups, and the like.
The Wildcats (20-2, 8-1) have not strayed from Philadelphia over their last two games, with great results. Villanova throttled Temple by 16 after running away with the game in the second half on Saturday before a quick turnaround saw them dispatch Xavier 81-58 on Monday in similar fashion. Senior wing James Bell led all scorers with 27 points (6-10 3pt), scorching Xavier's last-ranked Big East three-point defense.
Inclement weather has negatively affected several Seton Hall games this season, but for once, it might benefit the team. Villanova lost power during yesterday's winter storm, forcing university officials to close campus for the rest of the week as PECO races against the clock to restore heat and power to campus, where the Pavilion is located. As of last night, power had not been restored, leaving the options of moving the game, rescheduling, canceling, or powering the Pavilion by generator. As of this morning, it looks as though portions of Villanova's campus and surrounding areas have had power restored, though the large majority of students have already left for the weekend. Villanova's team practiced at local Haverford School yesterday as a result of the unfortunate situation on campus.
UPDATE (2:20 PM 2/6): Villanova has had power restored on their campus. Game will be played as scheduled.
Jay Wright's team is looking to string together a fifth consecutive win before a three-game seven-day road trip (yay Big East scheduling!) to DePaul, Creighton, and Providence. The visiting Seton Hall Pirates (13-9, 4-5), who also played Xavier in their last game, are attempting to go on their first Big East winning streak of the season after trading sweet victories and agonizing defeats over their last six games. A road win over the sixth-ranked Wildcats would inject some legitimacy into the post-season discussion for Seton Hall.
In their meeting at Prudential Center a month ago, Villanova held short-handed Seton Hall (Fuquan Edwin, Gene Teague, Aaron Geramipoor all DNP) at arm's length despite a hard fought game from the home team. Patrik Auda was fairly impressive in putting up 13 points, his highest total in the Big East this season and most points scored post-injury. Brian Oliver, who will return from a one-game suspension that saw him forego a trip to Xavier, was sizzling from long range (6-11 3pt), scoring a game-high 20 points as a result. Villanova's three-point defense (35.5%, 228th) is their only glaring statistical weakness -- the Wildcats rank in the top-5 of the Big East in every major offensive and defensive KenPom category except for defending the three.
Villanova was able to cruise by picking apart the Seton Hall defense in efficient, balanced fashion. Four Wildcats (Ryan Arcidiacono, JayVaughn Pinkston, Darrun Hilliard, Josh Hart) scored in double figures and the team shot 53% from the field, 52% from deep (12-23), and 86% from the line (19-22).
Portions of January's meeting at Prudential Center have to scrapped with the return of Gene Teague and Fuquan Edwin, Seton Hall is simply a different team. Teague has yet to regain his usual appetite since returning from a concussion five games ago, while Edwin has averaged 20.8 ppg (16-32 3pt) over his last five. Boasting the nation's second-best steal percentage, Edwin, who has notched 18 steals in the six games since not playing against Villanova, will look to shut down the red-hot James Bell. Both Edwin and Teague will look to make a significant difference for Seton Hall against a largely unchanged Villanova lineup.
Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard is 1-3 against Jay Wright and Villanova since arriving in South Orange. The Pirates have lost 11-straight games when traveling to Villanova since the 1993-94 season. Seton Hall will look to snap that streak by winning their fourth Big East road game. The Hall has already won three on the road, matching their highest total since the 2010-11 season. Seton Hall has not won four or more Big East road games since the 2005-06 season, when they made the NCAA tournament.
Last 10 meetings (Villanova 9-1):
Jan. 8, 2013, Villanova 83, Seton Hall 67, Newark, N.J.
Feb. 25, 2013, SETON HALL 66, Villanova 65, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 18, 2012, Villanova 84, SETON HALL 76, Villanova, Pa.
Feb. 15, 2011, Villanova 60, SETON HALL 57, Newark, N.J.
Feb. 2, 2010, Villanova 81, SETON HALL 71, Villanova, Pa.
Jan 6, 2009, Villanova 89, SETON HALL 85 (ot), Newark, N.J.
Feb. 9, 2008, Villanova 72, SETON HALL 70, Villanova, Pa.
Feb. 10, 2007, Villanova 78, SETON HALL 69, East Rutherford, N.J.
Jan. 17, 2006, Villanova 73, SETON HALL 64, Villanova, Pa.
March 2, 2005, Villanova 79, SETON HALL 58, Villanova, Pa.
KenPom says: No. 8 Villanova - 80, No. 79 Seton Hall - 65 (9%)
Projected Villanova starters:
6-3 So., G - Ryan Arcidiacono (9.7 ppg, 3.5 apg)
6-6 Jr., G - Darrun Hilliard (13.7 ppg, 4 rpg, 2.9 apg, 42/109 3pt)
6-6 Sr., G - James Bell (15.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.2 spg, 61/156 3pt)
6-7 Jr., F - JayVaughn Pinkston (14.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg)
6-11 So., C - Daniel Ochefu (5.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.6 bpg)
When: Friday, 7 p.m. local time
TV: FOX Sports 1
Radio: 970 AM