Greetings, fellow Juiceians!
It's been a long and eventful regular season for Seton Hall- ups, downs, u-turns, figure-8s, and more. And it comes down to a road game against the DePaul Blue Demons that could decide Seton Hall's postseason fate. A win, and the Pirates clinch the 8th seed in the Big East Tournament and a first round bye (the first time they've had one since 1993, when the tournament was only 9 teams and the Pirates- the 1 seed- won it all).
A loss, and things get a whole lot more complicated.
2011-12 record: 11-18 (2-15 Big East)
All-time series: 8-2
Last meeting: 1/10/12 (94-73 SHU W)
The book on DePaul is that they aren't very good defensively, and the numbers back that up. In fact, by all accounts and purposes, they are the worst defensive team in the Big East. The Blue Demons are last in scoring defense (77.2 PTS allowed per game), FG% defense (.481) and both rebounding categories.
But as opposed to past seasons, DePaul isn't as bad as their 2-15 Big East record states. Because of the hectic pace they play at, the Blue Demons are 3rd in the conference in scoring, assists and three-pointers made, plus they are tied for 6th in steals and 5th (just behind the Pirates) in turnover margin. The sophomore duo of Brandon Young and Cleveland Melvin is the highest-scoring such duo in the nation, ahead of Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas. With a young core surrounding them (with the exception of Jeremiah Kelly and Krys Faber, whose senior night the Pirates aim to ruin), DePaul has a bright future.
But it isn't helping things in the present. Over the last two games, the Pirates have ripped the Blue Demons for 94 points in the paint, including a whopping 50 the last time these two teams met in Rosemont. That was last season, and as many Pirate fans remember, that was the game that Jeremy Hazell returned from his injury. It was also a night where the Pirates only took NINE total threes, attacking the paint with relentless fire and great success. They shot 69% in the second half and ended up winning by only 11 thanks to 13 TOs.
DePaul this season has shown that it can compete with anyone on its home floor- they took Louisville, a team that's very similar to Seton Hall for obvious reasons, to overtime before finally falling, and they'll be sure to come out hyped to try and do what Rutgers did last weekend- put a serious dent in the Pirates' NCAA hopes.
Seton Hall will win if:
- They Embrace the Pace. Last time these two teams met this worked well. Seton Hall was able to score 27 fast break points in that contest, and Fuquan Edwin had a field day, going off for a career-high 28 PTS while Jordan Theodore tied what was then his career-high with 26 PTS and 11 AST (the assists are still a career-high). If the Pirates get out and run against DePaul off of turnovers like last time, the Blue Demons will have a devil of a time (no pun intended) trying to stop them.
- They control the boards. One of the things that DePaul did well in that last meeting was offensive rebounding, grabbing 16 O-boards in the contest. The Pirates were able to tie them in total rebounds (38 apiece), but be assured that there will be tons of shots put up tonight. Whoever corrals the misses better will have a great shot.
DePaul could win if:
- They ramp the pace into overdrive. While Seton Hall used to try and do the same thing, the Pirates are not the same team as they were when they did. DePaul has better athletes overall, and if they use that to their advantage, they could sneak up on anyone.
- They get hot from three. DePaul isn't a great three-point shooting team, but they have shown the ability to heat up from beyond the arc from time to time. Seton Hall is great at defending the three, so if DePaul can get enough of the shots to drop, it could make things interesting.
One final note- I will be calling the game on WSOU, so tune in to 89.5 FM in the New York Metro area, or log on to wsou.net and click "Listen Live" to support your fellow SOJ-ers!