The No. 16 Seton Hall Pirates hope to end a two-game losing streak when they host the No. 21 Butler Bulldogs in a key Big East battle on Wednesday. The Pirates (18-7, 10-3) currently have just a half-game lead over Creighton in the Big East, while Butler sits in a three-way tie for fourth in the league at 7-6.
Seton Hall has lost three of five overall, and coach Kevin Willard has been calling out some of his players for bad attitudes, not exactly a good sign for a team fighting for a conference title. The Pirates did beat Butler earlier this season, 78-70 in Indianapolis on Jan. 15, but both teams are desperate for a win in this one.
Seton Hall is a 4.5-point favorite playing at home, with the over/under set at 134.5.
Trying To Get Right
Butler has also dropped three of its last five games, including a 73-66 home setback to Georgetown last weekend. The Bulldogs’ previously impenetrable defense hasn’t been quite as stout lately, which has led to some losses. Coach LaVall Jordan is hoping he can get things tightened up on that end to help the Bulldogs string some wins together.
Offensively, Kamar Baldwin has been the most consistent threat for Butler, leading the team in scoring in 10 of the last 13 games. Baldwin is averaging 18.3 points per game in Big East play, ranking him third in the league. One key for the Bulldogs is getting junior guard Aaron Thompson back and healthy after he’s missed four of the last seven games. Thompson is fourth in the Big East with 5.0 assists per game and has dished out 18 assists with just two turnovers in his last four games.
The Pirates lean heavily on senior guard Myles Powell offensively, and he usually comes through, as he averages 21.7 points per game, good for second in the Big East. Quincy McKnight is second on the team in scoring, but he averages just 11.9 points, though he is dishing out 5.4 assists per contest.
Sophomore guard Jared Rhoden leads the team in rebounds with 6.9 per game despite being just 6-6 and having a 7-2 center, Romaro Gill in the lineup. Gill is averaging just 7.4 points and 5.6 rebounds but provides a huge defensive presence in the paint (3.5 blocks per game).
Pirates Defend Their Homecourt
These are two dangerous teams that could go far in the NCAA Tournament if they can get some consistency going again. Butler’s defense will give a lot of teams fits, but the Bulldogs will need to lock down on Powell in this one after he went for 29 in their first meeting this season. It won’t be enough to keep the Pirates from winning again. I’m taking Seton Hall -4.5 to get the win.