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preGame: Villanova vs. Seton Hall

A two game losing streak might be par for the course for some teams, but when it happens to a perennial contender like Villanova, the alert level rises a bit.  Last week was a tough one for the Wildcats, but what made it even more difficult to handle was the fashion in which Nova lost.  The stunning collapse to a weak Rutgers team and the letdown on College Gameday against Pitt is not sitting well with the Villanova faithful.

The Cats may be able to breathe a slight sigh of relief though with the upcoming week, as it certainly looks softer compared to the rest of the schedule.  Before heading to the Midwest on Saturday for a matchup with lowly Depaul, Villanova must first deal with the Seton Hall Pirates tomorrow night.  If there's any time for the Cats to get right, it's now.

Quick Thoughts From Chris:

With Stokes now out, it's time for Dom and Taj to step it up. They got a good taste of what will be expected of them against Pitt, and to be honest, they can perform better. I hope we see it tonight, and I have confidence we will.

More on the game after The Jump.

Media Coverage

Time: 8 PM Eastern Time

Location: Prudential Center in Newark, NJ

TV: Big East Network (SNY in the New York area) with Eamon McAnaney and Jim Spanarkel calling the action

About the Pirates

In what was supposed to be a bounceback year for Seton Hall, even with a first year coach, the Pirates have been a major disappointment, which is reflected by their 11-14 record.  The trials and tribulations have been constant for head coach Kevin Willard; big man Herb Pope had heart surgery in April, star Jeremy Hazell missed numerous this season after breaking his wrist and also being shot on Christmas, and two senior guards were just dismissed from the team.  One positive for Seton Hall is that they have played better of late, including losing to UConn by 2 and beating Rutgers at the RAC.  Their biggest win comes in the form of dismantling the Syracuse Orange in the Carrier Dome.

With the recent dismissal of Keon Lawrence and Jamel Jackson, Willard has a very short bench to work with, but his starters put up solid numbers, with 4 of them averaging double figures in points.  Senior Jeremy Hazell is the go-to-guy for the Hall; he puts up 18 points per game and is certainly not afraid to shoot, as he attempts nearly 15 field goals a contest.  Complimenting Hazell at the guard position is Jordan Theodore, who scores 11.2 ppg and dishes out over 4 assists a game.  Herb Pope and Jeff Robinson are the inside forces for the Pirates; while both score over 10 ppg, Pope grabs 8.8 rebounds a game with Robinson chipping in almost 7 boards.  

Tuesday's matchup represents the 100th meeting all-time between the Pirates and Wildcats, with the good guys holding a 62-37 edge.  Last year at the Pavilion, Villanova downed the Hall 81-71, despite Jeremy Hazell's dazzling 32 point effort.   

What to Expect

There obviously could be worse matchups for Villanova to play right now than Seton Hall, but with that said, I highly doubt the Cats will run away with this one.  Corey Stokes will most likely be in street clothes yet again, which means Villanova really only has 4 viable options on the offensive end: Corey Fisher, Maalik Wayns, Antonio Pena, Mouphtaou Yarou.  If all, or at least 3, of these guys don't show up, an upset could be in the making. 

If Seton Hall can contain some of the Nova impact players, it would be nice to see a Dominic Cheek or James Bell have a breakout game in terms of scoring.  Cheek's shot from the outside has been pathetic, but that doesn't mean he can't drive to the hoop and draw contact.  Bell has shown flashes in recent games, and Villanova could use an all-around solid game from the freshman. 

The Pirates are going to be very thin as a result of the recent incident, so Jay Wright has to be preaching push the envelope and get the Hall in the foul trouble.  Putting 1 or 2 of their starters on the bench early in the game will leave Seton Hall vulnerable, possibly opening the door for the Cats to take control of the game.  If Villanova can come out of the gates fast, it would not surpise me to see the Pirates pack it in.  Unfortunately, I have not seen that killer instinct too much from this Villanova team. 

Pregame Links   

-Seton Hall Game Notes

-Hall's Willard Had No Choice in Cutting Players