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The road to March Madness for Nova MBB continues with a Wednesday night showdown in Newark | Villanova vs. Seton Hall Preview

Written by on March 6, 2024

Coming off perhaps their best win of the season against Providence in Rhode Island, Villanova makes a stop at the Prudential Center for a Wednesday night showdown against Seton Hall. The Wildcats are looking for their third consecutive victory and back-to-back Quad 1 wins for the first time since November. Currently, Villanova holds 5th place in the Big East with a 10-8 conference record, just one game behind Seton Hall for 4th place.

All-Time Series

Villanova has dominated the all-time series against the Pirates. Villanova is 84-43 against Seton Hall, including three straight victories to start Coach Neptune’s tenure. Seton Hall has not defeated Villanova since February 8, 2020.

Villanova’s Most Recent Game: at Providence on Saturday, March 2

The Wildcats are coming off a statement win at the Amica Mutual Pavilion in Rhode Island. Villanova defeated Providence, 71-60, to win their first Quad 1 game since December 20th against Creighton. It was just Villanova’s 4th road victory of the season.

Against Providence, Villanova shot 51% from the field and 56.5% from behind the arc. Their offense was extremely consistent led by Justin Moore. For the first time in a few games, the Wildcats were healthy. TJ Bamba returned to the starting lineup while playing with a face mask. He missed the Georgetown game on February 27th with a facial fracture that he suffered against the Huskies three-days earlier. Also, Jordan Longino returned to the lineup for Villanova after also missing the game against the Hoyas with a non-COVID illness. In addition to tremendous offense, specifically from Moore with 15 points, the Wildcats’ defense shined in the second half to hold the Friars to just 23 points in the final twenty minutes. Villanova is 16-3 when holding opponents to under 70 points. They have allowed an average of just 53 points per game in their last two contests.

First Matchup between Villanova and Seton Hall: Super Bowl Sunday

Villanova already crushed Seton Hall, 80-54, on Super Bowl Sunday. However, that game was played in South Philadelphia at the Wells Fargo Center. In that game against the Pirates, Villanova’s defense dominated and never allowed Seton Hall to get into the game. They forced 15 turnovers and 11 steals. The Wildcats also shot 54% from the field and 46.7% from behind the arc. It was one of their best offensive games of the season. Eric Dixon led the Wildcats with 18 points and Brendan Hausen made five threes for 17 total points. Villanova had just eight turnovers and out rebounded Seton Hall by three rebounds. They also had 17 assists with a really smooth offense.

The Wildcats defeat the Pirates, 80-54, in their first matchup at the Wells Fargo Center on Super Bowl Sunday.

Seton Hall Pirates Preview

Seton Hall is 18-11 overall and 11-7 in conference play. They are 12-3 at home this season. The Pirates have some impressive Quad 1 wins from earlier in the season when they defeated #5 UConn and #7 Marquette at home. The Pirates finished the month of February with a 4-2 record. However, they have lost two straight games: a 21-point loss against #12 Creighton on the road and a 30-point loss to #3 UConn on the road. Obviously, those are two extremely tough games to win on the road, but the Pirates did not play well at all in Omaha or Connecticut. They look to rebound against Villanova before ending the season with a Saturday night matchup against DePaul.

As a team, Seton Hall’s offense is pretty similar to Villanova’s offense in terms of points per game. The Pirates average 72.6 points per contest. They are a good rebounding team with almost 38 rebounds per game. The Pirates are shooting 45% from the field and an excellent 77.4% from the free throw line.

In terms of weaknesses, Seton Hall struggles from behind the arc. They shoot just 31% from three on the season. The Pirates also average almost 13 turnovers per game compared to Villanova’s 9.5 turnovers per game.

Seton Hall’s Players to Watch

Seton Hall’s offense is led by the trio of Kadary Richmond, Dre Davis, and Al-Amir Dawes.

G Kadary Richmond (Senior, Brooklyn, NY): 16.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 4.8 apg, has scored at least 12 points in his last seven game

G Dre Davis (Senior, Indianapolis, IN): 14.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg, averaging 18.5 points in his last four games

G Al-Amir Dawes (Senior, Newark, NJ): 14.3 ppg, 37.4% 3P%, scored 14 points against Villanova on 2/11

Seton Hall’s defense has been very successful this season. They have held opponents to an average of just 70 points per game. Villanova must incorporate efficient passing and ball movement into the offense and knock down key shots from behind the arc like against the Friars. TJ Bamba will play tonight, and his presence tremendously helped Villanova on Saturday after a short one-game absence.

Keys to the Game + My Thoughts

Since the start of February, the Wildcats have been playing their best basketball of the season. Villanova already defeated Seton Hall about a month ago and should be slightly favored to win this game. However, like all Quad 1 road games, it will be difficult. The Pirates have excelled this season and far exceeded expectations from being predicted to finish 9th in the Big East.

To win this game, Villanova will have to play good defense, specifically to limit Richmond and/or Dawes, rebound competitively, and take advantage of Seton Hall turnovers. When the Wildcats have come up with their biggest wins this season like last weekend against Providence, the defense has stepped up to limit the opponent’s key scorers, especially in the second half. Villanova is currently ranked second in the Big East in field goal defense at 41%. The Wildcats held Seton Hall to just 54 points on February 11th and held Kadary Richmond to just 12 points. Richmond is one of the best scorers and players in the Big East. He’s a big reason why the Pirates have exceeded expectations. He is an explosive player and can carry the Pirates, despite his poor three-point shooting.

Seton Hall averages about two more rebounds per contest, but Villanova won that battle in the first matchup. On the road, it may not be easy or necessary for Villanova to win the rebounding battle, but they must keep it competitive. Eric Dixon and Tyler Burton combined for 11 rebounds in the first game, and I think Villanova will need them to control the paint tonight to stop Jaden Bediako, who is one of the best rebounders in the Big East with more than seven rebounds per game.

My final key to the game is to force turnovers and take advantage of those turnovers. Seton Hall will turn the ball over at a pretty high rate at times, and it will be crucial for Villanova to get those points off turnovers. In the first game, Villanova scored 19 points just from the Pirates’ 15 turnovers. The Wildcats’ defense has been pheromonal since February 1st, and I expect them to keep the pressure on Seton Hall tonight. This game will probably be close in the first half like the Providence game, but Coach Neptune and Villanova have proven over the last month that they can make amazing and impactful halftime adjustments, specifically defensively, to win the game late.

Villanova’s Players to Watch

In terms of players for Villanova, I think Justin Moore and Eric Dixon would be my two potential stars in this game for the Wildcats. Moore looks like he is returning to his former self prior to injury, specifically with good three-point shooting. His resurgence is one of the reasons for Villanova’s recent success. Moore is averaging almost 12 points per game in his last five contests, including 15 points against the Friars. Dixon has been Villanova’s best player all season long. Dixon averages around 16 points per game and is constantly a threat in the paint. Dixon can score, rebound, play defense, and pass at an extremely high level. The Wildcats will need some bench scoring from Brendan Hausen, Hakim Hart, and Jordan Longino, but if Dixon and Moore both score at least ten points, the Wildcats have a great shot at winning this game.

WXVU’s Live Coverage of Villanova vs. Seton Hall TONIGHT

WXVU’s live coverage of Villanova vs. Seton Hall begins tonight at 6pm with the pregame show. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30pm from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.