Rutgers vs. Seton Hall
Tip off: 5 PM EST
TV: ESPN U
Spread: SET -7.5
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights are 12-16 and in 12th in the rugged Big East. Things were a lot more promising before they got into conference play. They’ve dropped their last 6 contests, but 4 of those games came against tough ranked opponents (Marquette, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Louisville). They haven’t been close in any of their last six games, save a 5 point loss to Seton Hall, so this is their best chance to get back on track tonight. After tonight’s game, they close out their regular season against Villanova on March 1st and Saint John’s on the 3rd.
Eli Carter, Myles Mack, and Gilvydas Biruta combine for 33.1 of Rutgers’ 66 points per game, and Carter is putting up a team high of 13.3 points per game. Dane Miller leads the Scarlet Knights in rebounding with 6.4 per game.
Carter has had a number of big games, including a season high of 31 points in a 12 of 24 shooting game against the then #10 ranked Florida Gators. His inconsistency, though, is both troubling and characteristic of his Rutgers team, who figure to be a force in the upcoming years, perhaps, but did little to establish themselves in the Big East this season.
Like Rutgers, things were going a lot better for Seton Hall before they had to begin conference play. They won 15 of their first 17 games of the year before dropping 6 straight. They’ve come back since to win four of their last five, with the lone loss coming to Cincinnati on February 18th.
Tuesday night, they disposed of #8 ranked Georgetown by defeating the Hoyas by 18 points, and giving up only 55 points. The upset may help Seton Hall land a place in the Big Dance here in a couple weeks. The fact that a team with an 8-8 conference record is a threat to make the NCAA tournament is not a statement on the parity of the NCAA, but rather just the strength of the Big East.
Jordan Theodore went nuts against Georgetown, hitting 8 of his 11 field goal attempts and all 8f of his free throws, while hitting all 5 of his threes, and dishing out 5 assists to go with his 29 points. The 6’0″ senior guard is averaging 16.2 points per game this season, though shooting under 40% from the field. Theodore has scored 20 or more 6 times this season, and in those games Seton Hall is 6-0, clearly illustrating the importance of Theodore’s offense.
Herb Pope and Fuquan Edwin combine to contribute another 28.1 points per game, and also 16.8 boards between them, paced by Pope’s 10.4 per game. Pope, now in his senior season, has improved every year at Seton Hall, and is also blocking a career high 1.6 shots per game, and getting 1.1 steals per contest. It is his all around play that has enabled Seton Hall to be the defensive force that they are when at their best.