Seton Hall v. Alabama, 6:00PM
Paradise Jam, Round 1
University of the Virgin Islands
Opening Line: Seton Hall -2.5 (SHU 1-1ATS)
Television: FCS Broadband
Radio: WSOU 89.5 FM
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Seton Hall Pirates, Big East, Kenpom: 50, Record: 1-1
Overview: After starting their season at The Liacouras Center against Fran Dunphy’s talented Temple Owls, a home game against Cornell was a blessing in disguise. The Pirates needed a confidence booster before heading down to Florida for the Paradise Jam and a 92-68 drubbing of the Big Red in front of their home crowd was the perfect remedy. With four Pirates finishing in double digits and Hazell shooting 8-11 from the field, including four from downtown, Seton Hall’s shooting woes against Temple seem to be a thing of the past.
Seton Hall enters their first game of the Paradise Jam tonight against the Alabama Crimson Tide of the Southeastern Conference (West) the slim favorite. Alabama is certainly no slouch, as they post a serious threat under the rim against a relatively undersized Pirate squad. In order to defeat the Crimson Tide, the Pirates will need to shoot well from the perimeter and be aggressive rebounders. Shot selection is key here with Alabama being an above average rebounding team. Wasted possessions for Seton Hall will work in Alabama’s favor.
Alabama Crimson Tide, SEC West, Kenpom: 46, Record: 2-0
Overview: Alabama enters the Paradise Jam with two convincing home wins over less than impressive opponents (Florida A&M, Troy), but Seton Hall will be their first real test this season. Like the Pirates, Alabama has a somewhat difficult out of conference schedule, having to play nationally ranked Purdue on the road before another road game at Okalahoma State, which is typically known for having one of the most difficult arenas to play in.
The Crimson Tide finished last season 16-14, with one SEC tournament win, before going out to powerhouse Kentucky. Returning a good portion of their starters, with the exception of leading scorer Mikhail Torrance, Alabama boasts a serious threat on the glass. By controlling the board, Alabama can turn bad possessions into second chance opportunities, something Seton Hall will need to quell. Alabama is an athletic team with good guard play and decent depth and height. Coach Anthony Grant’s team is definitely not one to sleep on in the SEC, and seemingly set for the future, having the 15th ranked recruiting class for 2011.
Kenpom's Prediction: Alabama 72, Seton Hall 71
Both teams have gone deep into their benches this season, as Alabama has 11 players averaging double digits in minutes played while Seton Hall has 10. Both teams like to press as well, so expect a revolving door of players tonight. Again, execution on offense will help them set up that press, so that will be key against a tough defensive team. Both teams are well- matched physically, although Alabama has the tallest player on either roster in 7- footer Carl Engstrom (who was a target of Seton Hall, fans may remember).
A win tonight will be far from easy, though. Seton Hall returns four starters--including their top three scorers--from a team that barely missed the NCAA tournament last year and finished with a solid 9-9 record in what was arguably college basketball's toughest conference. The Pirates did make a coaching change in the offseason after former coach Bobby Gonzalez was relieved of his duty due to off-court issues. Kevin Willard, who did a nice job at Iona, was brought in and hopes to quickly put the program back into the NCAA tournament and the top half of the Big East.
This should be a very competitive game, and an important one for the resume as part of the Pirates' 2011 NCAA Tournament aspirations. Both teams had competitive seasons last year and fell short in many games, a typical characteristic of a group still coming together.
I think the Pirates have the edge in the backcourt, Alabama in the frontcourt. Both teams are focused on prioritizing defense, although The Hall is more explosive, and I'd expect those bursts to be the difference.
As always, Let's Go Hall!