How To Watch, Stream & Listen
Rutgers (10-1) At Seton Hall (9-2)
Where: The Prudential Center, Newark, NJ - SOLD OUT
Tip-off: Friday, December 23rd at 6:30 p.m. EST
TV: FOX Sports 1 - Brian Custer and Danny Marshall
Stream: FOX Sports App
Radio: WCTC 1450 AM - Jerry Recco & Joe Boylan; WRSU 88.7 FM - Dom Savino and Tim Catalfamo
KenPom Rankings: Rutgers #115; Seton Hall #50
KenPom Prediction: Seton Hall 75 Rutgers 65 ; Rutgers is given a 19% chance to win.
Series History: This will be the 57th meeting between the in-state rivals, with Seton Hall owning a 33-23 advantage. The Hall have won the past three seasons since the schools began to meet just once a year, due to playing in different conferences. It is now dubbed the Garden State Hardwood Classic.
Connections: As is to be expected, there are many close connections between these blood rivals. Of course, Rutgers AD Pat Hobbs was interim AD and Dean of the Law School at Seton Hall. Former Rutgers head coach Fred Hill is an assistant with the Hall. Mike Williams was high school teammates with Khadeen Carrington and both played with Angel Delgado in AAU ball. Nigel Johnson played at Kansas State with fellow transfer Jevon Thomas.
To read our Q&A with Big East Coast Bias on Seton Hall, click here.
About Seton Hall
The Pirates enter this game with a 9-2 record and have played a solid non-conference schedule. They’ve beaten Iowa on the road, as well as Cal and South Carolina on neutral courts. Their two losses came on neutral courts to Florida and Stanford. Head coach Kevin Willard is in his 7th season at Seton Hall and was hired by Rutgers AD Pat Hobbs during his stint as interim AD at the school. Willard ended a 10 year NCAA tournament drought for the Pirates last season and also were Big East tournament champions.
There has been some roster turnover already this season, as shooting guard Veer Singh decided to transfer about two weeks ago. He struggled to find consistency and wasn’t much of a factor. However, news broke on Thursday of a player dismissal.
Seton Hall has dismissed backup forward Myles Carter from the team.— Jerry Carino (@NJHoopsHaven) December 22, 2016
Carter wasn’t an impact player either this season. Still, it is never a good thing to have a player removed from the team in the middle of the season and who knows if it will have any impact with the mindset of this team ahead of the latest installment of this rivalry game. Here is a review of the key players on the team:
The 6’4” junior guard is averaging 19.4 points per game this season and is shooting an impressive 50% from the field, as well as from three-point range. He has scored in double figures every game this season, while also chipping in with 2.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per contest.
He is a force to be reckoned with on the blocks, as the 6’10” forward averages a double-double with 14.3 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. Delgado shoots 59% from the field, but is a terrible free throw shooter, as he averages just 47% from the line.
The 6’6’ junior wing is super athletic and is scoring 14.5 points and grabbing 6.1 boards per game. His size and quickness will likely be a problem for Rutgers.
The 6’2” point guard has been a steady hand in the backcourt and has only committed more than two turnovers in a game just twice this season. He is much more of a distributor than a scorer, but is shooting 45% from the field. Jones averages just 6.0 points and 3.3 assists per game, but his value is much more than what shows up in the stat sheet.
The Hall’s version of Mike Williams off the bench is Powell, the heralded 4-star recruit who is a Trenton, New Jersey native and starred at South Kent Prep in Connecticut. The 6’2” freshman is a deep threat behind the arc, as he is shooting 39% from three and averages 12.0 points per game.
The 6’8” Nigerian forward adds 5.7 points and 4.1 rebounds off the bench, while shooting a scorching 71% from the field.
The 6’8” forward is a defensive presence in the paint and a good rebounder, averaging 6.1 boards to go along with 3.6 points per game. His focus will likely be to attempt to shut down Deshawn Freeman in this game.
The Kansas State transfer is a true X-factor in this game, as it will mark his Seton Hall debut. The 6’1” guard from Queens will help at point guard, backing up Jones.
Keys To The Game
Avoid Slow Start
Rutgers has been prone to slow starts this season and cannot afford to continue that troubling trend against Seton Hall. The environment will certainly be the most lively at the start of a game that Rutgers has dealt with so far, so hopefully they can feed off of that energy. Defensively, they need to bring the same intensity that’s helped them wear teams down in the second half of games right away. They cannot fall behind by double digits early or it could be a very long night. While Mike Williams and Issa Thiam certainly have the potential to light it up from behind the arc, Rutgers isn’t built to overcome large deficits. As Seton Hall has proved the past two seasons in winning this matchup by 27 and 29 points respectively, they are not going to take their foot off the gas in this one. Rutgers must be ready to roll from the opening tip.
That leads us to our next key, as Rutgers needs to take care of the basketball to prevent any extended runs by the Pirates. On the flip side, Seton Hall actually turns the ball over and has a far worse assist-to-turnover ratio than Rutgers. Their best three players in Carrington, Delgado, and Rodriguez, all average over 2 turnovers per game. The only player on Rutgers that does is Corey Sanders, but he also has the ball in his hands the most and has cut down in this area from last season. He, Nigel Johnson, and Mike Williams have a chance to be a nuisance on the defensive end. Rutgers needs to generate some points in transition to really have a chance in this game, because Seton Hall plays excellent halfcourt defense.
Second Chance Points
Rutgers has profited all season with offensive rebounding and rank as follows: 1st in the country in offensive rebounding percentage, 3rd in rebounding margin, and 8th in rebounds per game. Eddie Jordan’s team, this is not. However, Rutgers got beaten badly on the glass in their lone loss of the season against Miami. Those second chance points were few and far between, which is a major problem for a poor shooting team like Rutgers. Seton Hall doesn’t rebound at as high of a rate, but they’ve played a lot more better teams than the Scarlet Knights have. The rebounding battle will be huge on both ends of the floor, but Rutgers really needs to win some battles on the offensive glass and finish near the rim, or it could get ugly.
Foul Trouble & Free Throws
As frustrating as Rutgers can be at the foul line, Seton Hall is actually worse. They average just 61.6% from the charity stripe, which ranks #336 in the country. Rutgers isn’t very good either though, coming into this game ranked #270 and averaging 65.7%. Whoever wins the pillow fight from the free throw line will have an advantage.
A big reason Seton Hall is shooting so low is because of Angel Delgado. He has taken a quarter of their free throws this season and is making an anemic 47% from the line. One thing to watch is whether Rutgers plays “Hack an Angel” in an effort to prevent him from shooting near the rim and forcing him to shoot from the line. However, it’s not just Delgado who has struggled. Leading scorer Khadeen Carrington, who is a 50% shooter from the field, is strangely shooting only 61% from the charity stripe.
In terms of getting to the line, Rutgers needs to make a concerted effort to try and get Angel Delgado in foul trouble. In the Hall’s loss to Florida he committed 4 fouls and played a season low 24 minutes, which resulted in the only game this season he had less than 8 rebounds, finishing with just 3. Delgado also only scored 5 points and played 24 minutes against Quinnipiac, the only game he has fouled out in this season. Overall, he has had at least 4 fouls in 4 of 11 games this season. Freeman, CJ Gettys, and Sa need to attack the rim and force the action on Delgado. That is far easier said than done, as he and Sanogo are excellent interior defenders. However, whenever Rutgers does get to the line, they must take advantage of their opportunities.
Pikiell v. Willard
Steve Pikiell have proven to be a very good in-game coach so far this season. I really think the battle of wits could be fun to watch, if this game goes down to the wire. Pikiell has been on point all season in calling timeouts at the perfect times, designing set plays after a dead ball that Rutgers seems to execute most of the time, and his substitutions and use of his rotation has been really good. I also expect Pikiell to call for the full court press at times in this game, something he has used only in isolated spurts so far. Rutgers is not as talented as the Hall’s core seven players, but they are deeper and Pikiell has done a good job of wearing teams down, utilizing his depth. Willard is a good coach too and will likely have some tricks up his sleeve as well. This could be the start of another great coaching matchup in this series, which we profiled here. However, I think if Rutgers can keep it close and give Pikiell the opportunity to call situational plays in the final minutes, it could be the difference in winning the game.
In The Bonus
This game is at Seton Hall and is a sellout. It’s the lower bowl only of the Prudential Center, which is about 11,000 seats. That should make for closer feel and a potentially raucous atmosphere if it’s a close game. I’m hoping for a solid turnout from the Rutgers faithful. We know why Dave White won’t be there, but I’m fortunate enough to have a seat on press row. One thing that has always made this rivalry a classic is the fans from both sides. Let’s all hope it’s a great game and the crowd is lively, to say the least.
Trash Talking Bonus
Delgado on an improved Rutgers team: "They can be No. 1 in the country and we're still gonna beat them."— The Setonian Sports (@SetonianSports) December 18, 2016
I will be live tweeting during the game from our On The Banks account here.