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2014-15 Seton Hall Basketball Preview Series: Round Three, Paradise Jam

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All-SEC freshman center Jordan Mickey (12.7 ppg, 7.9 rpg) will clog the paint for LSU.
All-SEC freshman center Jordan Mickey (12.7 ppg, 7.9 rpg) will clog the paint for LSU.
Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Spor

In the second round of Paradise Jam, Seton Hall will either win or lose to one of Clemson or Gardner-Webb. Depending on that and other outcomes, they will match up with one of LSU, Illinois State, Old Dominion, or Weber State in their final game at the Paradise Jam.

Looking at the tournament bracket, Illinois State and LSU are the two more likely third round opponents for Seton Hall while Old Dominion and Weber State are not. LSU will be favorite to beat ODU in the first round,  meaning Seton Hall would have to lose to Nevada for there to be a high probability to face the Monarchs. The same goes for Weber State, who will be underdogs in the first round and second round, meaning Seton Hall would have to lose their first two games to have the best shot at facing the Wildcats.

Further, Illinois State would face Seton Hall in the 3rd/4th place game should the Redbirds beat Weber State but lose to LSU and Seton Hall take care of Nevada but lose to Clemson (both fairly likely scenarios). Lastly, LSU is the most likely opponent for Seton Hall if the Pirates win their first two games and play in the tournament final.

For some more scenarios and insight on the Paradise Jam, click here.

Like Clemson last week, LSU is another 20-win southern school that were on the fringes of the 2013-14 NCAA tournament that loses their best player to the NBA. LSU's forward Johnny O'Bryant was selected 36th in the draft by the Milwaukee Bucks after deciding to forego his senior season.

While the Clemson Tigers retain a solid  core of players to make up for the lost K.J. McDaniels, LSU also loses guard Andre Stringer (11.8 ppg) and forward Shavon Coleman (9.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg) to graduation and guards Anthony Hickey (8.4 ppg, 3.7 apg) and Malik Morgan (4.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg) to transfer; Hickey is off to Oklahoma State while Morgan's next destination is Tulane. LSU's departed players account for 65-percent of their total scoring from 2013-14.

Roster subtractions: Andre Stringer, Shavon Coleman, Anthony Hickey, Malik Morgan

Returnees to watch: Jordan Mickey (12.7 ppg, 7.9 rpg), Jarell Martin (10.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg), Tim Quarterman (2.5 ppg)

Key additions: Keith Hornsby (6-foot-4 UNC-Asheville point guard), Josh Gray (Odessa C.C., Tx.; second team all-America JuCo guard) 7-foot Elbert Robinson (Lakeview Centennial, Tx.; top-75 center)

The loss of Anthony Hickey via transfer leaves a hole at point guard that looks to be filled by a combination of incoming transfer Keith Hornsby, who averaged 15 ppg, 4.2 rppg, and 3.1 apg as a sophomore at UNC-Asheville, and all-american junior college guard Josh Gray. Sophomore shooting guard Tim Quarterman will fill in for departed guards Andre Stringer and Shavon Coleman, both of whom saw time at the two last season.

LSU looks a lot more sure in the post where all-SEC freshman center Jordan Mickey returns alongside fellow sophomore Jarell Martin. Highly rated 7-footer Elbert Robinson will likely fill in at center off the bench as an impact freshman.

Although they lose three starters, LSU probably poses the biggest threat from the other half of the Paradise Jam bracket. These Tigers return less experience than Clemson's, but are still a threat to win the tournament and post decent numbers. After a final RPI of 83 and a KenPom rating of 58 last season, I would expect a final number somewhere in the same range (NIT/bubble-out) in 2014-15.

*****

While a mid-major in name, Illinois State makes a good case for testing LSU on the other half of the Paradise Jam bracket despite losing a pair of players to Big Ten schools via outgoing transfer.

Junior college transfers Bobby Hunter (a one-time Seton Hall target) and Daishon Knight return for their senior seasons and will need to lock down their starting guard roles. The JuCo pair are the Redbirds' two leading returning scorers from a team that graduated no one from a CBI semifinalist team last spring.

In his second season as head coach, Dan Muller ran with a three/four-guard lineup last season that will likely be tweaked this campaign. A pair of forwards who were ruled academically ineligible last season in MiKyle McIntosh and Deontae Hawkins will bolster an Illinois State team that was ranked 344th out of 351 in average height last season. McIntosh received high-major offers from UCLA and Miami (Fla.) during his recruitment, along with interest from UConn and Kentucky and should make an instant impact alongside 6-foot-10 sophomore Reggie Lynch, who is the only returning post forward that saw significant minutes for Illinois State. The Redbirds also add two high-scoring junior college guards in Justin McCloud and DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell.

Roster subtractions: Zach Lofton (11.3 ppg, 3 rpg -- Minnesota), Nick Zeisloft (6.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg -- Indiana), Jamaal Samuel (2.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg -- Louisiana Monroe), Kaza Keane (2.4 ppg)

Returnees to watch: Daishon Knight (13.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg), Bobby Hunter (10.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.4 apg), Paris Lee (6.7 ppg, 2.3 apg), Reggie Lynch (8.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.8 bpg)

Key additions: Deontae Hawkins, MiKyle McIntosh, Justin McCloud (19.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg at Bismarck State College), DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell (20.9 ppg at Eastern Oklahoma State College)

It's unforeseen if McCloud and Akoon-Purcell will crack Illinois State's starting lineup at guard, but if they don't, expect sophomore Paris Lee to join Bobby Hunter and Daishon Knight in a familiar three guard lineup. Despite being newcomers, the trio of guards were mainstays for the Redbirds down the stretch last season.

The activation of MiKyle McIntosh and Deontae Hawkins will give head coach Dan Muller options at forward after junior college forward Michael Middlebrooks was suspended indefinitely following four games last fall, resulting in him leaving the team. Beyond starting center Reggie Lynch, only junior forward John Jones (5.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg) saw time last season before breaking his foot during league play. Jamaal Samuel filled in briefly before opting to transfer to Louisiana-Monroe this spring.

Illinois State produced a final RPI of 134 and KenPom rating of 142 last season, making them a decent schedule for any opponent this season, especially factoring roster turnover. The Redbirds weren't great on offense last season, but played fast (99th in adjusted tempo) and finished with an adjusted defensive efficiency of 68th. Playing long stretches with four guards on the court, Dan Muller's team naturally finished 27th in 3PA/FGA and 64th in percentage of total points coming from three-pointers.

It's very early yet, but Illinois State is my darkhorse to win the Paradise Jam and could make some noise in the Missouri Valley Conference this season. If Seton Hall were to meet with the Redbirds, it would be an early taste of Creighton's former conference prior to traveling to Wichita State in December.

*****

The first of two schools that are the least likely to face Seton Hall at the Paradise Jam, Old Dominion, takes on LSU in the opening round. Jeff Jones' first year at the helm after the long-tenured Blaine Taylor moved on was also the Monarchs' first year in Conference USA, where they finished 18-18 (9-7) overall and made the CBI semifinals opposite of Illinois State in the bracket.

Like Illinois State, ODU was one of the shortest teams in the country last season at 321st in average height with just two scholarship players standing above 6-foot-6 (Richard Ross, Denzell Taylor). Also similar to the Redbirds, Old Dominion graduates just one player in shooting guard Dimitri Batten, who subsequently transferred to Boston College, where he will be eligible immediately under the NCAA's graduate transfer rules. Batten was one of three Monarchs that attempted 150 or more three-pointers last season.

Roster subtractions: Dimitri Batten (11 ppg, 4.2 rpg)

Returnees to watch: Aaron Bacote (15.5 ppg, 2.9 apg), Keenan Palmore (9.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.7 apg), Richard Ross (9.9 ppg, 7 rpg, 2.3 bpg), Denzell Taylor (4.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg)

Key additions: Jonathan Arledge (6-9 George Mason graduate transfer), Javonte Douglas (2nd team JuCo All-American)

Again like Illinois State, Old Dominion may shift toward a bigger lineup in 2014-15 with the addition of 6-foot-9 George Mason graduate transfer Jonathan Arledge, who will become eligible immediately. Second team junior college All-American Javonte Douglas, who can do freakishly athletic things like this, will also bolster ODU's front court.

With just about everyone returning and the addition of two seasoned forwards, there's no reason why Old Dominion can't improve upon their decent first year in Conference USA that resulted in RPI and KenPom ratings of 170. But will a slight improvement be enough to get them past LSU in the first round?

*****

Unless Seton Hall loses their first two games and Weber State loses their first two games at the Paradise Jam, a matchup between the schools is highly unlikely.

Last season was Randy Rahe's eighth at the helm of Weber State and his second trip to the NCAA tournament while with the Wildcats.

Roster subtractions: Davion Berry (19.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.9 apg), Kyle Tresnak (11.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.8 bpg), Jordan Richardson (7.1 ppg, 2.5 apg), Royce Williams (2.5 ppg), Josh Fuller (1.6 ppg)

Returnees to watch: Jeremy Senglin (10.9 ppg), Joel Bolomboy (8.7 ppg, 10.9 rpg), Richaud Gittens (6.9 ppg)

Key additions: Chris Golden, Jaelyn Johnson-Coston (JuCo All-American honorable mention)

Weber State loses their best player and starting point guard, their starting center, and one shooting guard. The Wildcats return just one upperclassman who played any significant minutes last season in Joel Bolomboy, who tried out for the Ukraine national team in early July.

Factoring in their roster turnover and returning players, Weber State looks sure to finish lower than 177th in KenPom and 149th in RPI like they did during 2013-14.

This was the fourth preview installment of the 2014-15 Seton Hall Basketball Preview Series. Next Monday at 10 a.m. we take a look at Seton Hall's first opponent after they return from the U.S. Virgin Islands: George Washington. Depending on the Pirates' success in the Paradise Jam, this could turn into an important game on their schedule.