Wednesday, March 7, 2012
W2W4: Seton Hall vs. Louisville
By Kieran Darcy
Here are three things to watch for when Seton Hall (20-11, 8-10 Big East) takes on Louisville (22-9, 10-8 Big East) on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Tip-off is at 7 p.m., and you can watch the game on ESPN, or via ESPN3.
WHAT'S AT STAKE: A spot in the Big East tournament quarterfinals. But more importantly, No. 10 seed Seton Hall can basically lock up an NCAA tournament at-large bid with a win over No. 7 seed Louisville. The Pirates could make the field of 68 even with a loss. But they'll sleep a lot better leading up to Selection Sunday if they pick up another victory.
These two teams played once this season -- a 60-51 Louisville win at Seton Hall on Jan. 28.
The winner of this game will face No. 2 seed Marquette on Thursday night.
THE PIRATES: Seton Hall got a desperately needed win in the opening round of this tournament, crushing Providence 79-47. That will help erase the sting of that gawd-awful 86-58 loss at last-place DePaul in the Pirates' regular season finale -- a huge blemish on their NCAA tournament resume.
If the Pirates are going to win this game, they'll do it on the backs of their two senior leaders, as usual -- point guard Jordan Theodore (15.9 ppg, 6.9 apg) and power forward Herb Pope (15.3 ppg, 10.1 rpg). Theodore had 13 points and 13 assists against Providence, while Pope had 16 points and six rebounds.
Seton Hall is prone to inconsistency -- you just never know what you're going to get from this team. But if they're shooting the ball well from the perimeter, they can beat just about anybody.
THE CARDINALS: Louisville can already rest assured that it will be in the NCAA tournament field, but the Cardinals -- who received a first-round bye in this tournament -- would like to pick up some momentum heading into the Big Dance.
Rick Pitino's club has lost three of its past four games, including its final two of the regular season, to South Florida and Syracuse.
Louisville is led in scoring by senior swingman Kyle Kuric (12.9 ppg) and sophomore guard Russ Smith (11.9 ppg), a sparkplug off the bench.
The Cardinals get after you defensively, as usual -- fifth in the country in field goal defense (37.9 percent) and seventh in steals (9.2 spg). But offensively, they are not a good shooting team this year.