Ahoy. The Providence Friars (12-6, 4-2) head to lovely Newark, NJ to face the Seton Hall Pirates (9-8, 0-5) tonight at 7PM. Remember when Seton Hall had a few big victories early in the season, and it looked like they were going to be a surprise team? Oh, it seemed like it was just yesterday. After a few big injuries and a brutal start to their BIG EAST schedule, the Pirates are still looking for their first BIG EAST win.
The Friars season came unraveled after losing to the Hall last year at THE DUNK, but this is a different Providence team with Sharaud Curry at the point, and an emerging Marshon Brooks. If PC continues to play as well as they have been over the last several games, they should be able to pull out a nice road win — It would be their second road win of the season, matching their output for each of the last three seasons.
Gametime: 7PM at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ
PREDICTIONS AND GAMBLING
Spread: Providence -1.5 [Providence StatTweets]
Ken Pomeroy: Predicts SHU win, 81-80 [53% chance]
Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez recruited and coached Jeff Xavier for two years while he was the head coach at Manhattan.
“Jeff is tough as nails. No question. I’m sure he can’t wait to play against me but I don’t want any piece of him.” — Bobby Gonzalez
LETS LOOK AT SOME NUMBERS
Seton Hall comes in playing at a slightly slower pace than the Friars
Let’s take a look at the Four Factors
When Seton Hall has the ball
Seton Hall has been one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the nation (30%). Their leading scorer, sophomore Jeremey Hazell, is really their only threat behind the arc (51-148, 34.5%). He takes almost half of their total threes. If the Friars can lock him down on the perimeter, it will be up to the interior defense to stop Hazell, Eugene Harvey, and Robert Mitchell — the only Hall players who average over 10 points a game.
When Providence has the ball
Seton Hall has been great at getting steals this season, averaging 9.1 a game (1st in the BE, and 20th in the nation). However, their forced TO% isn’t that great even with the large amount of steals. If Sharaud Curry can take care of the ball for Providence, the Hall could be in trouble on defense.
AROUND THE WEB
The Friars will return to action on Thursday, January 22 versus Seton Hall at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. It will mark the 85th meeting ever between the two teams. Providence has posted a 44-40 mark all-time against Seton Hall. The two teams first met on February 26, 1927 when the Pirates defeated the Friars, 25-24, at South Orange, N.J. The Friars are 17-25 in road games against Seton Hall, 24-11 in home games and 3-4 in games on neutral courts. Last season, Seton Hall defeated the Friars, 88-75, on January 24, 2008 at
Seton Hall has finally ended a five-game stretch to begin the BIG EAST season that featured games against four AP Top-20 teams, three of which were on the road. Most recently, the Pirates are coming off a 76-61 loss to #4 Connecticut on Sunday in Hartford. Sophomore Jeremy Hazell remains the second-leading scorer in the conference.
The Pirates return home tonight and are in desperate need of a victory after losing five games in a row and seven of eight overall. Each of the five Big East losses have come against a team that’s spent time ranked this season. SHU owns a 6-3 home record.
Gonzales was the first coach to recognize Xavier’s skills and first to shake his head at the recklessness that the Pawtucket native plays with. Gonzalez successfully recruited Xavier out of St. Raphael in 2004 while he was coaching Manhattan College. For two years, Gonzalez watched Xavier hurl his body across the floor, play tight defense and bomb away from outside. Xavier averaged 12.3 points in his two seasons with the Jaspers but one game stands out from the rest.
The Friars (4-2, 12-6) are trying to secure their status as a
bubble team (and not declare themselves NIT bound already), and they are off to the right start. While they have not defeated any of the top Big East, they have taken down DePaul, St. John’s, and Cincinnati twice (originally a bubble team that is now almost definitely on their way to the NIT).