A win for Providence and that sets up a big-time home finale against Butler on Saturday. A loss and the 20-9 Friars can forget about that 2 seed. Here’s what our Fearless Forecasters think:
Without knowing the health and availability of Carson Desrosiers, this is a very difficult game to pick. With an effective Desrosiers, I think PC wins comfortably against a dysfunctional Pirates team. Without him, or with a limited performance, this could be a tough game in what is usually a dead building. Senior Night might help a bit with the crowd, but what will really help Seton Hall is the return of Sterling Gibbs – but even with that, there are questions. Will he blend back into the lineup seamlessly or will the chemistry problems with Isaiah Whitehead continue as they battle each other for shots? Will Paschal Chukwu, if called upon for major minutes, be able to stay out of foul trouble and contend with the smaller, but mobile Angel Delgado inside? Continued development from Chukwu, Ben Bentil and Kyron Cartwright will be key if Carson can’t go. And it goes without saying that LaDontae Henton and Kris Dunn need to both play well. Led by Delgado, Seton Hall rebounds well and Henton will have to get up on the glass to help offset that. Problems and all, the Friars didn’t shake the Hall at the Dunk until late and all signs point to this game being tight throughout as well… but character teams make the plays down the stretch to win.
Prediction: Providence 67 Seton Hall 62
Seton Hall is a mercurial team. How else do you describe a team that can beat Villanova and St. John’s but lose at home to Butler and Marquette? It all comes down to youth and some serious chemistry problems. Sterling Gibbs and Brandon Mobley should be the unquestioned leaders. However, freshman Issiah Whitehead has other ideas and the support of other young players like Angel Delgado and Khadeen Carrington. It’s made for a dysfunctional season at the Hall, but let’s forget the Pirate soap opera for a moment.
Seton Hall won their last game against Creighton without Sterling Gibbs. They should be even better versus the Friars, right? Don’t necessarily count on it. Whitehead and Gibbs will no doubt fight over shot opportunities, and the team may turn on itself again. Jared Sina was a glue guy, and with his departure, I feel Seton Hall cannot return to their best play of early January. Providence’s best advantage is their size once again, although Carson Desroisers has yet to prove he can come back from his knee injury and play effectively. Despite virtually locking up an NCAA bid with the victory over Marquette, Providence has more at stake in this game than Seton Hall does in terms of the post season and seeding. That should fire the play of Henton and Dunn, and positively impact the game. If Ben Bentil, Tyler Harris, and Paschal Chukwu build on their performances from the weekend, the Friars should be able to edge out Seton Hall on the road, but it’s hard to imagine it not being a very close one.
Prediction: Providence 67 Seton Hall 64
Seton Hall gets Sterling Gibbs back from his 2 game suspension for striking Villanova's Ryan Arcidiacono in the face on February 16th. In the 2 games Gibbs missed the Pirates went 1-1. The loss came at St. John's and the win came at home against Creighton in their most recent game on Saturday. Gibbs' return means Seton Hall gets their leading scorer back and a player that was thought to be the favorite for Big East POY in January prior to Seton Hall's nosedive. The Pirates may very well have the Big East Rookie of the Year on their club as the coaches predicted in the preseason. It's not the guy they picked though. The frontrunner is Angel Delgado. Delgado is leading the Big East in rebounds at 9.9 boards/game and he has shown a slightly better touch at the rim than I thought he would. That 40.2% free throw percentage isn't pretty though.
Delgado had 15 rebounds against the Friars on February 14th in Providence's 7 point win at the Dunk. Kris Dunn and LaDontae Henton carried the day for the Friars back then and that will obviously be the case again on Wednesday. Carson Desrosiers' availabilty will be something to watch because Ben Bentil fouled out last time these two teams met in just 16 minutes and the athleticism and quickness of Delgado could be a problem for Chukwu if he is forced to play near 30 minutes again like he did on Sunday against Marquette. I do think the Friars will win this game but road wins are hard to come by and the Pirates will be at full strength with Gibbs' return to action. It's also Seton Hall's senior day though I don't expect a similar crowd feel to the one the Friars experienced at Villanova last week.
Prediction: Providence 68 Seton Hall 65
Seton Hall's first game without departed guard Jaren Sina was the Pirates' loss at Providence on Valentine's Day. In that and the three games since, Seton Hall has an offense that would rate as the Big East's second worst over the course of a full season and a defense that would be the very worst. The Pirates have shot it poorly, turned it over, failed to force turnovers and failed to get to the line. All of that, particularly the lack of turnovers, is good news for the Friars and Kris Dunn especially. The one area where SHU has held up of late is on the glass where they are still rebounding nearly 40 percent of their misses over the last four games. Angel Delgado, Desi Rodriguez and Brandon Mobley are the biggest factors there. Despite all the shots Isaiah Whitehead is taking, his efficiency (a worse turnover rate than Dunn in league play to go with a 34.5 percent 2-point field-goal percentage) means the danger man is still Sterling Gibbs, who is expected to return from a two-game suspension Wednesday. Keep Gibbs in check and clear the defensive glass, and Seton Hall figures to struggle to score. At the other end of the floor, Dunn and LaDontae Henton (plus Ben Bentil and Paschal Chukwu) should be looking inside against the league's worst 2-point defense. I expect it to be tight but the Friars to prevail.
Prediction: Providence 73, Seton Hall 68
With their second to last game of the regular season, 24th ranked Providence takes on a dismantled Seton Hall squad in New Jersey. The Hall will return guard Sterling Gibbs following his two game suspension, who should help the Pirates immensely in the backcourt. The Friars won the last battle against the Pirates a couple weeks back, 69-62, with LaDontae Henton and Kris Dunn leading the way once again. This game, along with Providence’s senior night game Saturday vs. Butler, is all about seeding. Winning both games will help Providence’s seeding not only in the Big East Tournament, but the NCAA Tournament as well. Kris Dunn should continue to have another stellar stat line against the Pirates, as he has controlled the led the Friars offense to success. With Carson Desrosiers knee still not 100%, we could see freshman Paschal Chukwu get another start for the Friars. Chukwu has been playing great not only on the defensive side, but the offensive side also. Paschal showed some serious footwork under the basket last game against Marquette, scoring a tough layup and getting the attention of a lot of people. NBA scouts have already watched and taken notice of Chukwu, who has a tremendous upside in the games and years to come. Paschal will continue to improve, as he should have another great game against Seton Hall if the minutes are there. Providence outscored Seton Hall’s bench 22-8 last game, as I expect the same outcome to happen again with the strong recent play of Tyler Harris. Harris’ versatility has shown lately scoring in many different ways for the Friars, which has helped to spread the floor. Seton Hall outrebounded the Friars 40-36 on Valentine’s Day, as it should be another rebounding battle with likely the Big East Rookie of the Year, Angel Delgado controlling the boards for the Pirates. It could also be a celebration night, as LaDontae Henton could surpass the 2,000 point mark, joining only Ryan Gomes as the only players to record 2,000 points – 2,000 rebounds in a Friar uniform (I hope he can surpass the mark and celebrate in front of a sellout crowd at The Dunk vs. Butler on Saturday, however). I expect Providence to control this game from start to finish with the best 1-2 duo in the Big East leading the way.
Prediction: Providence 75 Seton Hall 65
Here's the thing: Seton Hall doesn't make me nervous as team. Yes, they have some serious talent on that squad (Angel Delgado leads the Big East in double-doubles - almost makes me miss Greedy Peterson. Almost.) and they're tough as nails on the board, leading the Big East in rebounding at 40.8 rpg. But that doesn't make me nervous - we may not have double-doubles like Delgado, but we have double-trouble in Dunn and Henton. And while they're first in rebounding, we're not far behind, coming up third in the Big East at 39.3. I'm not even nervous that Seton Hall is on a downward spiral right now, will all but likely miss the Dance, and are playing for the NIT at best at this point. None of that makes me nervous, because the nerves are coming from Providence. Will the Friars show up ready to compete, or will the Pirates get the jump on the Friars? Call me crazy because I believe we'll win this game in a convincing blowout, but I can't shake the concern that this one could quickly slip from us. It's March 3rd and the Friars need to show they can do all this and then some against a team not going anywhere. My concern is whether or not they will.
But that said the Friars are going to blow the doors off this game and when they do I'll probably get messages with people saying things like "Warrior you're being dramatic! Don't be so paranoid!" which I will gladly embrace cause hey, the Friars won convincingly.
Prediction: Providence 78 Seton Hall 67
FEARLESS FORECAST: SETON HALL
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