Friday, March 16, 2012
W2W4: Seton Hall vs. UMass
By Kieran Darcy
Here are three things to watch for when Seton Hall (21-12, 8-10 Big East) takes on Massachusetts (23-11, 9-7 Atlantic 10) on Saturday morning at Walsh Gymnasium in South Orange, N.J.
Tip-off is at 11 a.m., and you can watch the game on ESPN, or via ESPN3.
WHAT'S AT STAKE: A spot in the National Invitation Tournament quarterfinals.
Seton Hall, one of four No. 1 seeds in this year's NIT, got here by beating Stony Brook 63-61 on Tuesday night. UMass, a No. 5 seed, defeated No. 4 seed Mississippi State in Starkville, 101-96 in double overtime, also on Tuesday.
The winner will play the winner of No. 3 seed Drexel versus No. 7 seed Northern Iowa. If Seton Hall wins, they will host that quarterfinal game on Tuesday, again at Walsh Gym on campus.
THE PIRATES: Seniors Jordan Theodore and Herb Pope led Seton Hall, as usual, against Stony Brook -- Theodore had 21 points and six assists, Pope had 20 points and nine rebounds.
Despite the disappointment of not making the NCAA tournament in their final opportunity, the two seniors looked motivated to play well in the NIT and get back to Madison Square Garden for the semifinals and championship game.
It's also a great opportunity for all the Seton Hall freshmen and sophomores to accumulate some postseason experience.
THE MINUTEMEN: UMass finished tied for fifth in the regular season in the Atlantic 10, upset top-seed Temple in the A-10 tourney quarterfinals, and then lost 84-80 to eventual A-10 champ St. Bonaventure in the semifinals.
The Minutemen are led by 5-foot-9 sophomore guard Chaz Williams, a Brooklyn native who transferred from Hofstra, who is averaging 16.7 points, 6.4 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game. Six-foot-nine sophomore forward Raphiael Putney and 6-foot-5 sophomore guard Jesse Morgan average 10.3 and 10.1 points per game, respectively.
UMass is 16th in scoring in the country (77.5 ppg), but 293rd in scoring defense (72.6 ppg). The Minutemen are 32nd in 3-point field goals per game (8.1), but just 219th in free throw percentage (67.9). They are eighth in the country in steals per game (8.9), but 271st in turnovers per game (14.9).
Derek Kellogg, a former UMass point guard and John Calipari disciple, is finishing his fourth year as head coach.