Seton Hall @ West Virginia, 7PM EST
WVU Coliseum, Morgantown, WV
Opening Line: West Virginia -8.5 (SHU 9-11 ATS)
Radio: WSOU 89.5 FM
Twitter: @SOrangeJuice @JPGuerette @JohnLopiano @The_Bracket_Man
Seton Hall Pirates , Big East, Record: 10-12 (4-6), KenPom: 64, RPI: 90, SOS: 8
The Pirates are looking to tie their longest win streak of the season (three games) tonight. The streak began at the Carrier Dome, a location that has haunted Pirates of seasons past. If the winning ways are to continue, Seton Hall must win on a court in which it has not faired too well, 2-9 to be exact.
According to sources, Jeremy Hazell has been playing around with whatever he will be wearing on his once fractured wrist. He wore that bulky gladiator type protection against Depaul up until the Syracuse game. Against the Orange and most recently against Providence, he removed a cast he had been wearing underneath of the outer black sleeve. Since Providence, Jeremy has taken it one step further: he has been practicing without anything on his left wrist. Will he play that way? It is yet to be seen, but don't be surprised.
Patrik Auda might see some more playing time against the Mountaineers. The freshman forward saw his first action this weekend since injuring his toe against Cincinnati on New Years Eve. I've been told that Auda is supposed to be wearing a special shoe that protects his injury, but hasn't because it is still in transit. Hopefully he can build on the 9 minutes he logged against the Friars.
There has been unwarranted talk of the Pirates making an NIT run or even an NCAA run if they go 2-0 this week, the other game being against UConn. That hasn't crossed my mind, and I bet it hasn't crossed the minds of the players. They have played hard of late, but most importantly they have played for each other, and for their coach. That breeds success. The wins will come if the general principles for a winning program are in place.
What to Look for Tonight:
A Big Ten Game . What do I mean by that? A score in the 50s or 60s that will be decided by a rebounding advantage and superior defense. West Virginia hasn't been known for their scoring ability in recent seasons, and they have averaged 58PPG in the last three games. Seton Hall has also changed their tempo when compared to last season. A slower game is no longer a huge disadvantage.
Rebounding is important in every game, but it will be much more important tonight because West Virginia is 5th in the country on the offensive boards . Limiting extra possessions in a game that will have a higher than usual value per possession is crucial. This means that our favorite player to pick on, Jeff Robinson, will need to bang in the paint if the Pirates want to win. We know he has the ability, we just need to see him utilize it.
West Virginia Mountaineers , Big East, Record: 14-6 (5-3), KenPom: 18, RPI: 14, SOS: 4
Following West Virginia's win over South Florida on January 23rd, senior guard Casey Mitchell was suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules. Since the incident, it has become known that he will suit up against Villanova this weekend, meaning he misses tonight's game. In the two games since Mitchell was suspended, some have said that the team is actually better off without him (we've heard this argument about Hazell), but I'm sure 99 out of 100 Pirate fans would rather play West Virginia WITHOUT their leading scorer (16PPG).
In the two games since Mitchell's suspension, head coach Bob Huggins has shortened his rotation to seven men. In addition to the starters listed above, forward Deniz Kilicli and guard Dalton Pepper have come off the bench for the Mountaineers to play 15-25MPG. The Pirates will finally be playing a Big East team that has equal or less depth than them.
For more on West Virginia, see JP's Scouting Report .
KenPom Prediction: West Virginia 71, Seton Hall 60
Seton Hall has won two straight and coming off an 81-71 victory over Providence on Sunday. For the second straight game five players scored in double-figures for the Pirates, who were led by Herb Pope and his sixth double-double of the season. Pope finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Patrik Auda made his return from a foot injury that kept him out of the last six games. Jeremy Hazell was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll on Monday. He leads the team with 19.1 points per game.
Herb Pope and Jeremy Hazell can certainly count their blessings.
The two Seton Hall standouts playing Wednesday night against West Virginia at the WVU Coliseum have a lot to be thankful for – Pope, for surviving a near-death experience last spring when a previously undiagnosed birth defect caused him to collapse during a team workout, and Hazell for surviving an attempted robbery on Christmas night when he suffered a flesh wound after a bullet passed through his right armpit.
Two weeks before that, Hazell suffered a broken bone to his left, non-shooting wrist during an 83-78 win against Alabama. Hazell thought about redshirting to make a run at Terry Dehere’s school scoring of 2,494 points but the soon-to-be 25-year-old reconsidered.