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College Basketball Pick
These two teams are on different ends of the spectrum. Villanova is fighting for a 1-seed and will likely get one, while Seton Hall is just trying to make the NCAA tournament. The Pirates are in a run of three-straight home games against good teams and need to take advantage in at least one of them. They already beat Creighton on Wednesday, but winning this one would do wonders for their chances.
The first time these teams played, it was over within the first eight minutes with Villanova leading 17-7 en route to a 76-46 win. While this game is in Newark, 'Nova has still been efficient in road games, beating teams like Xavier and Providence in recent cases. They have losses at Butler and Marquette, but is Seton Hall capable of doing that? The hardest games the Pirates have had at home this season were a three-point win vs. Marquette, an overtime win over Providence and a loss to Butler.
But when looking at that previous game, Seton Hall has a ways to go. Of course, it won't be the same kind of domination from Villanova, but how will the home team win? The Pirates have the most efficient defense in the Big East outside of 'Nova and that's how they'll compete here. Last game, Villanova did whatever it wanted scoring 1.23 points per possession with the help of 12 made threes. Obviously, that can't happen again if Seton Hall wants to compete. To help, Darryl Reynolds has missed the last couple games and is questionable for this one. While he's not a huge offensive presence, he gives Villanova some size and without Reynolds, they've been giving youngsters Eric Paschall and Dylan Painter more time. That'll be the main route of attack for Angel Delgado who's averaging 15 points and 13 boards per game. He had just eight and six with five turnovers in the first meeting. With Reynolds, Delgado will be fed early and often.
But even without Reynolds, Villanova is still deadly on the offensive end through Josh Hart and Jalen Brunson. Those guys weren't asked to do much in that first game because it was over from the start, but they'll likely do more in a closer game. That will require Khadeen Carrington and Desi Rodriguez, Seton Hall's leading scorers, to play well on both ends of the court. They did neither in the first game even and while Rodriguez scored 15 points, it wasn't all that efficient. As for Carrington, he was dominant on Wednesday, scoring 41 points to go with five boards, seven assists and four steals. While Delgado may have a small edge down low, the Pirates still have one of the least efficient offenses in the conference and they turn it over a ton, as seen in the 16 last game. If those turnovers continue, there will be less paths to victory for them.
Seton Hall will undoubtedly play better in the second game between these teams and will likely keep things close, but winning close games has not been something this team has done this season. The Wildcats are rolling and haven't looked susceptible to Big East teams for at least the last two weeks. But if Carrington can have a repeat performance, the sky's the limit for Seton Hall.
Our pick - Villanova by 9
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