Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The Matchups: Xavier vs Seton Hall

Before every game, Rick provides a position-by-position look at what to expect. This edition focuses on Saturday's afternoon matchup against Seton Hall at the Cintas Center.

Edmond Sumner FR (6-6, 183) vs Isaiah Whitehead SO (6-4, 215)

Sumner scored in double figures in both games since returning from his concussion, however he finished just 2-of-12 from the field with 10 points, four assists, three steals and two rebounds in 33 minutes against Georgetown. He was 0-for-5 from inside the arc in that game. He ranks third among Big East freshman with an average of 11.2 points per game, and second with an average of 3.3 assists, to go with 3.1 rebounds in 24.5 minutes. Whitehead is a big, crafty guard with great playmaking ability and a solid mid-range game. He's averaging 15.4 points, 4.5 assists and 2.8 rebounds in 29.8 minutes per game. He's coming off a 21-point, five-assist effort against Villanova. He's had seven games with 15 or more points and five or more assists this year. Last year, Whitehead had 19 points in the second game against the Musketeers at Seton Hall. This is the exact type of matchup that has given XU difficulty this year, because of Whitehead's ability to get into the lane and make plays off of the bounce. 

Even

Myles Davis JR (6-2, 188) vs Khadeen Carrington SO (6-3, 180)

Davis is coming off a 15-point effort in the loss to Georgetown. He was 5-of-9 from the field, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range. Over the last five games, he's 13-for-28 (46.4%) from beyond the arc. He's averaging 11.1 points, 3.5 assists and 3.4 rebounds in 29.6 minutes per game. This is going to be a tough defensive matchup for him. Carrington is at his best when he's driving to the rim and making plays, but the lefty is also a 34.7 percent 3-point shooter with a knack for making big shots. He's the Pirates' most efficient scorer, having scored a career-high 22 points last Saturday in the Pirates' win over the 12th ranked Providence Friars. He also had 17 on Wednesday in the close loss to Villanova. The combination of Carrington and Whitehead has been the second-highest scoring duo in conference play behind Providence's Ben Bentil (20.2 ppg) and Kris Dunn (18.5 ppg). The two sophomores have combined for at least 27 points in all six Big East games to this point. Carrington is averaging 14.7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 29.9 minutes per game. He's been particularly effective on the road, averaging 17.7 points in three conference road games. 

Slight Edge Seton Hall

Remy Abell SR (6-4, 197) vs Desi Rodriguez SO (6-6, 215)

Abell has had a rough go of it lately, averaging just 1.0 point, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 21.3 minutes over the last three games. He's averaging 6.7 points, 2.1 assists and 1.7 rebounds in 26.4 minutes per game. His defense is going to be crucial in this matchup, as Seton Hall has multiple athletic guards with the ability to get into the lane and make plays. Rodriguez was feeling it against Villanova on Wednesday when he buried a career-high three 3-pointers as part of a 14-point effort. He ranks seventh in the Big East at 40.8 percent from 3-point range on 49 attempts, after sinking just one of 12 attempts as a freshman. He's averaging 11.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.2 assists in 24.6 minutes per game. Last year, his season-high came in a 16-point game against the Musketeers. Xavier will also have to keep him off of the offensive glass. On the other end of the court, he's one of the Pirates' top defenders, having recorded a steal in all 18 games, including three against Villanova. 

Slight Edge Seton Hall

Trevon Bluiett SO (6-6, 208) vs Ismael Sanogo SO (6-8, 210)

Bluiett is coming off an 18-point, 10-rebound effort in the Musketeers' home loss to Georgetown on Tuesday night. For the season, he's averaging 15.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 30.7 minutes per game. This will be an interesting matchup when the Musketeers are on offense. Sanogo is a forward with the ability to guard all five positions on defense. He's a legitimate candidate for the Big East's Defensive Player of the Year award, having developed from a reserve last season into a starter who currently stands as the only Big East player to rank in the top 10 in rebounding, steals and blocks. He had eight rebounds and one block in 30 minutes against Villanova, and is averaging 4.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 27.8 minutes per game. He's had three offensive rebounds in each of the last seven games, so the Musketeers will have to make sure they do a good job of keeping him off of the glass. 

Moderate Edge Xavier

James Farr SR (6-10, 244) vs Angel Delgado SO (6-9, 245)

Farr had just six points, six boards and two turnovers in 19 minutes against Georgetown. Last year against Seton Hall, he had eight points in both games while averaging 13.5 minutes per game in the two meetings. He's averaging 10.1 points and 8.8 rebounds in 20.9 minutes per game this year. Delgado is a relentless rebounder on both ends of the court with good size, strength and anticipation. He had 12 points and eight rebounds in the Pirates' loss to Seton Hall, and ranks second in the Big East with eight double-doubles. For the season, he's averaging 9.3 points and 9.5 rebounds in 29.7 minutes per game. Since scoring 12 points and grabbing six rebounds at Xavier last season as a reserve, he's started all 34 games since. 

Slight Edge Xavier

Xavier Bench vs Seton Hall Bench

JP Macura (6-5, 203) is averaging 8.6 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists while shooting 30.6 percent from 3-point range in 20.6 minutes per game. Jalen Reynolds (6-10, 238) hasn't reached double figures in the last three games. He had nine points (4-6 FG) and four boards in 21 minutes against Georgetown. For the season, he's averaging 9.6 points and 6.6 rebounds in 19.6 minutes per game. Freshman Kaiser Gates (6-8, 217) has given the Musketeers a boost off the bench lately, averaging 5.3 points and 3.3 rebounds in 15.6 minutes over the last three games. Sean O'Mara (6-10, 247) only played eight minutes against Georgetown, but he was effective on offense, finishing with six points (3-6 FG), two boards and one block. For Seton Hall, senior guard Derrick Gordon (6-3, 205) typically guards the other team's best player and has helped slow down some of the premier guards in the nation, including Wichita State's Fred VanVleet and Kris Dunn of Providence. He's averaging 8.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.1 steals in 26.3 minutes per game. Sophomore forward Michael Nzei (6-7, 200) is an athletic and mobile forward that rebounds pretty well at both ends. He's averaging 4.9 points and 3.4 boards in 14.7 minutes per game. Freshman wing Veer Singh (6-7, 185) adds 3.1 points and 1.4 rebounds in 11.5 minutes per game. He's mostly a spot-up shooter from the outside where he's shooting 35.7 percent on the year. 

Moderate Edge Xavier

Overall

Seton Hall is in the process of wrapping up a stretch in which the team has squared off with three consecutive opponents ranked inside the AP Top-12. The Pirates are looking to move to 3-1 in Big East play for the first time since 1999-00, and a win would mark the first time in 104 seasons of Seton Hall basketball that they've defeated a pair of top 12 opponents in true road games during the same season.  The Pirates lost 72-71 to Villanova on Wednesday at the Prudential Center. They finished with a season-low six turnovers in the loss to the Wildcats - the fewest turnovers the Pirates have had since finishing with six in a 92-81 win over LIU-Brooklyn on December 5, 2013. Xavier is coming off its first home loss of the season after falling to Georgetown, 55-50, on Tuesday.  Seton Hall is 3-1 against Xavier over the Musketeers' first two Big East seasons. The Pirates swept the series in 2013-14, and the teams split home games last year. This year, Xavier has held its opponent under 40 percent from the field in four conference wins, while allowing Villanova and Georgetown to both shoot over 50 percent in its two conference losses. Seton Hall is shooting 44.5 percent from the field as a team, and 33.8 percent from 3-point range. The Pirates are below average when it comes to spot-up jump-shooting. As a team, they're connecting at a 34.5 percent clip on all spot-up jumpers. They create a lot of offense in transition and off of ball screens. They're also a good defensive team, but they struggle to keep opponents off the offensive glass. They also foul a bit too much. Last year, they held the Musketeers to 4-of-34 (11.8%) from 3-point range in two meetings. They play about 90 percent man-to-man, but mix in a match-up 2-3 zone where they extend out to halfcourt and really pressure the ball - something they'll likely do a lot against Xavier. This is a tough matchup for X, but coming off a home loss should have the Musketeers motivated in the Cintas for this one. 

Predicted score: Xavier 78 Seton Hall 74


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