Marquette Golden Eagles (18-12, 9-8 BIG EAST) vs. Seton Hall Pirates (12-17, 6-11 BIG EAST)
Prudential Center-Newark, N.J.
5:00 PM CST Saturday
TV: ESPN3.com,ESPN Full Court, TWS 32 (local)
Broadcast Team: Justin Kutcher (play-by-play) and Tim O'Toole (analyst) will have the call.
The Golden Eagles will attempt to become just the second team – Pittsburgh being the other – to win a total of 10 Big East conference games in each of the past six seasons when they travel to New Jersey to face Jeremy Hazell and the Pirates.
Seton Hall comes into Saturday's matchup on the heels of an impressive showing against St. John's Thursday evening. The victory was arguably the Pirates most impressive to date as they shot over 56% from the field, knocked down a season-high 12 three-pointers and led the Johnnies for most of the game. Unfortunately for Seton Hall, the rest of the season has not been so kind as they have struggled in league play, dropping three games in a row on three separate occasions.
Despite their tendency for let downs, the Pirates usually manage to keep games pretty close – especially at home where they have lost to Syracuse, Villanova, Connecticut and Georgetown by a combined total of 15 points.
What really makes Seton Hall a scary matchup is their do-it-all senior, Jeremy Hazzel. The 6-foot-5 inch guard is the third most prolific scorer in the league (19.3 points per game) and is someone who always seems to give Marquette fits – having averaged nearly 22 points per game in the last three series meetings. Hazzel is a slasher who can not only beat his defender off the dribble but scorch a defense from deep (six games with four or more three point field goals) as evidenced by his best performance of the season, a 31 point showing against St. John's.
Shutting Hazell down is a lofty and somewhat unlikely task, rather having the ability to contain him is what's paramount.
Alongside Hazell in the starting lineup comes a mostly-veteran, very productive bunch. Quarterbacking the team at the point is Jordan Theodore who leads the team in assists at 4.3 per game and is a decent three-point shooter at 35% clip.
In the frontcourt, seniors Herb Pope and Jeff Robinson give Head Coach Kevin Willard a blend of both solid rebounding and scoring – combining for over 22 points and 14 rebounds per game. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the season however has been freshman Fuquan Edwin. The lanky wing has slowly worked his way into the starting lineup and has twelve double figure games including a season-high 19 points in the Pirates' last outing.
The issue for Seton Hall all year has not been what they get from their starters but what they lack from the rest of the team. While the Pirates will go seven or eight deep, rare is it that one of their reserves makes a great impact on the game. For this reason, it seems as if the Hall fancies a bit of a slower game pace than in years' past. They certainly will not turn down an opportunity for an easy look in transition but are not a huge threat to get out and run on a given night.
This is without a doubt a must have game for Marquette as they cannot afford to leave any doubts in the Selection Committee's mind. The Golden Eagles must be patient on the offensive end while also taking proactive measures to contain Hazell and not let anyone else catch fire.
Look for Marquette to try and speed up the pace of the game to tire out the thin Pirate bench. Don't be surprised to see frequent looks into the low post for Chris Otule and Davante Gardner as they attempt to not only score but also get Pope and Robinson in foul trouble. The first matchup between the two teams led to arguably the better-combined performance between Otule and Gardner. The duo managed 17 points and 14 rebounds on February 19.
Seton Hall averages a pitiful 18.6 turnovers per game so there is also no reason to believe that Buzz Williams won't use some type of press. Finally, don't sleep on Jae Crowder. He's coming off of a season worst 3-point performance against Cincinnati and something tells me he might have a profound impact on Saturday's outcome.
Seton Hall Pirates Projected Starters
G–#10–Jordan Theodore (6'0" 174 lbs., Junior) --- (10.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 4.3 apg, 1.3 spg, 35% 3PT)
G–#21–Jeremy Hazell (6'5" 188 lbs., Senior) --- (19.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.3 spg, 80% FT, 32% 3PT)
G/F–#23–Fuquan Edwin (6'6" 205 lbs., Freshman) --- (8.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.2 spg)
F–#32–Jeff Robinson (6'6" 230 lbs., Senior) --- (12.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 74% FT)
F–#15–Herb Pope (6'8" 236 lbs., Junior) --- (10.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 1.4 bpg)
G–#14–Eniel Polynice (6'5" 220 lbs., Senior) --- (3.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.7 spg)
F–#33–Patrick Auda (6'9" 225 lbs., Freshman) --- (2.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg)
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