Villanova appears to be hitting its stride. After suffering four defeats before the start of conference play, the Wildcats have won seven in a row, six in the Big East, and sit atop the conference. On Sunday, Villanova hosts the Seton Hall Pirates for a 2:30PM ET tip with a good chance to keep their unbeaten run going.
Seton Hall is currently one part of the octet clustercuss that is the Big East (after Villanova and Marquette). Early in conference play the Pirates were looking like a potential NCAA Tournament team, having beaten St. John’s and Xavier and boasting an 11-3 record with wins over Kentucky and Maryland. Things turned south after a loss at DePaul, and since then the Pirates have lost four out of five. Though, incomprehensibly, their 3-4 record has them in a tie for 3rd place in the Big East.
Seton Hall Team Stats
Attrition hit Seton Hall hard over the off-season, as four of the team’s five biggest minutes contributors graduated. Between Desi Rodriguez, Khadeen Carrington, Wildcats’ play thing Angel Delgado, and Ismael Sanogo, the Pirates had to try and replace 117.2 minutes and 52.2 points per game. Within this context, their strong out of conference showing and their two marquee wins are all the more impressive.
However, of late, the Pirates have been beatable and have shown signs of weakness. For starters, this isn’t as high powered of an offensive team as we’ve seen in year’s past. Seton Hall has found an identity as a team that gets to the line and rarely turns the ball over, but that doesn’t exactly translate into scoring. The team has a 37.1% free throw to field goal attempt ratio, good for 90th in the country, and turns the ball over on just 17.0% of possessions, ranking them 59th. At best, this is only an average team when it comes to shooting the ball, ranking 157th in efficient field goal percentage, 219th in 3PT FG%, and 155th in FT%.
Defensively, Seton Hall bothers its opponents’ jump shots effectively and generates a fair number of turnovers. The Pirates force turnovers on 20.5% of all possessions, which ranks them 91st, and their opponent 3PT and 2PT FG% are both in the top third of the country.
The offensive engine of this team is Myles Powell, the lone double digit scorer still on the team from last season. Powell, now a junior, is averaging a cool 22.2 points per game, hitting 45.3% of his shots. Powell is a dangerous three-point shooter who takes more than half of his attempts from beyond the arc, connecting at a 35.9% rate. After Powell, the scoring falls off considerably, with junior guard Quincy McKnight chipping in 10.3 and 6’10” Georgian (the country) sophomore Sandro Mamukelashvili adding 9.5 per game.
The Wildcats hold the advantage in personnel, and there are several areas where Villanova should be able to exploit the Pirates. VU should dominate the glass, as SHU ranks in the bottom third in the nation in offensive rebound percentage on both ends of the floor. Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, Eric Paschall, Saddiq Bey, and Jermaine Samuels should, collectively, put Seton Hall under pressure on the offensive glass. As a mostly man defensive team, Seton Hall will have problems with Phil Booth, and his play-making ability should create openings for the roll-game and inside-outside 3PT shots.
Defensively, Villanova must contain Myles Powell, who has single-handedly won several games for Seton Hall. Predictably, the junior from Trenton has struggled during Hall’s losing streak, shooting just 39.7% from the floor and 30.0% from three over his last five games. If the Wildcats can get Powell off his game early, this contest could turn into a blowout.
The Pirates are no easy out, and they’ve played every loss besides two to within five points, notably losing four by four points or less. However, Villanova is both the superior team and in better form, and should have the upper-hand in this one. At home, expect the Wildcats to ride Phil Booth and Eric Paschall to a seventh straight Big East win.