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Is Seton Hall's nation-best three-point defense for real?

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In search of validating the Hall's three-point defense, a look at how good opponents have been at shooting threes and how the Hall has defended the three away from home.

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

I have openly questioned just how good Seton Hall's ability to force opponents into poor shooting numbers from beyond the arc a few times this season, and they have continued to remain steady after holding the Big East's best, DePaul, to 8 of 38 (21%) over two games. The Blue Demons have since slipped to second.

comment from a reader on Twitter stated that teams have shot well against Seton Hall away from Prudential Center, which is said to have unforgiving rims. Not sure if this was true or not, I took a deeper look and uncovered a few other bits about the Pirates' most glaring statistical strength.

I was also curious to see if my general hypothesis that opposing teams are missing a bunch of open shots could be verified or not. Durrell McDonald channeled his inner Durrell McDonald, Jeremy Hazell and Darrick Wood with the dagger three last night, but DePaul also missed a handful of good looks. Creighton also had three or four open shooters on the perimeter in a last-second attempt to win the game but missed, something that Kevin Willard was relieved of after the game.

After further review, Seton Hall opponents are 38-180 (21%) from three at Prudential Center and 60-191 (31%) away from it. The Hall's season average is 25.9 percent, right in the middle. Without five low-leverage (didn't factor into outcome) Illinois State threes in the final two minutes, Seton Hall holds opponents to 29.7% on the road. If that were a season average, Seton Hall would be tied for 26th in three-point defense.

The Hall's perimeter defense on the road is strong enough without considering the general disadvantages of playing away from home, especially for this team.

One major criticism of this statistical strength is that Seton Hall hasn't played prolific three-point shooting teams this season. After all, the Big East is 29th out 33 conferences in treys (32.5%). I found this to be somewhat true.

The Pirates have played top-150 three-point shooting teams nine time this season, four of which came on the road and two at the Paradise Jam. In those games, they held opponents to 51-178 (28.6%) from three. Again factoring out the last two minutes of the Illinois State game, that's 26.7 percent, which is pretty impressive.

As a whole, Seton Hall's non-conference opponents had an average national ranking of 198th in three-point shooting. Nevada was last at 350th and Gardner-Webb first at 84th. That's not bad, but not good either.

Kevin Willard has stated in the past and as recently as Xavier that his teams have game planned to close out on three-pointer shooters in an effort to make other teams beat them inside. That said, Willard's team has been particularly bad at defending shots within the arc and are last in conference-only play at 54.7 percent. As I mentioned this morning in the DePaul Notebook, the Pirates have given up pretty inflated numbers from two of late including a +20 margin for DePaul last night.

To summarize:

  • Seton Hall has shut down the best three-point shooting teams they've faced, some of which were away from home.
  • There doesn't look to be a large gap between how opponents have shot the ball at Prudential Center compared to elsewhere. Even if you do consider the 10 percent margin significant and refuse to factor out the late heroics at the Paradise Jam, 31 percent three-point defense on the road is pretty good.
  • Averaged, we haven't seen the best three-point shooting teams take on the Hall, but they aren't close to bad enough to directly inflate defensive statistic.
  • There is some sort of trade-off going on between interior and perimeter defense, especially in conference play, and it needs to be figured out. Brandon Mobley wasn't the only one, but a glaring example of this happening was when he left Rashaun Stimage wide open in the paint on his way to cover a man on the perimeter in the second half with the score tied at 59. Mobley had to recover when the rock was given to Stimage and fouled him. The DePaul power forward made his free throws and the hosts would lead for the rest of the game.