NO. 25 LOUISVILLE (16-5, 4-4 Big East) AT SETON HALL (15-5, 4-4 Big East)
Time/TV: 8 p.m./SNY, MASN, Big East Network, ESPN Full Court
Location: Prudential Center
Louisville 37 (No. 7 Big East)
Seton Hall 19 (No. 6 Big East)
Line: Seton Hall -1 (O/U 133)
Louisville Players to Watch: G Peyton Siva, 6-0 Jr. (8.4 ppg, 5.8 apg, 2.1 spg); G/F Kyle Kuric, 6-4 Sr. (13.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 36.8% 3s); C Gorgui Dieng, 6-11 So. (10.3 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 3.3 bpg). Kuric appears to be over his ankle injury, which forced him to miss two games. He played 33 minutes, scored 21 points, grabbed five boards and had a pair of steals and an assist in U of L’s 73-62 win over Pitt, and 16 points, five assists and three steals as the Cardinals beat Villanova, 84-74.
Seton Hall Players to Watch: F Herb Pope, 6-8 Sr. (16.1 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 1.7 bpg); G Jordan Theodore, 6-0 Sr. (16 ppg, 7.2 apg, 2.2 spg); F Fuquan Edwin, 6-6 So. (14 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.1 spg). Pope and Theodore are the Pirate stars, but Edwin has been strong of late. He had 14 points in the loss to Villanova and 11 points, 12 rebounds in Wednesday’s loss to Notre Dame.
Storylines: Louisville is back to .500 in the Big East after three wins in its last four games, including back-to-back victories at Pittsburgh and at home over Villanova. Seton Hall has gone the other way. The Pirates were 4-1 in the Big East after four straight wins, including a triumph over defending national champion Connecticut, before losing three straight. The streak features losses to South Florida and Notre Dame at home.
Keys: In its three consecutive losses, Seton Hall is 61-for-173 from the field, a dreadful 35 percent, including a 15-for-57 performance (26.3 percent) against Notre Dame. The Pirates have made just 21 of their last 69 3-point attempts, including their first nine in Wednesday’s loss to the Irish. Theodore has typified the dry spell, going 4-for-12 overall and 0-for-4 from deep on Wednesday. The senior is fifth in Seton Hall history with 458 career assists, although he had a season-low one in Wednesday’s loss. For the season, Seton Hall has missed 394 3-pointer through 20 games. The most any Pirate team has ever missed in a season was 761 in 2000-01. Louisville, on the other hand, shot 55.3 percent at Pitt and despite shooting 42.6 percent against Villanova, scored 84 points. In the victory, the Cardinals made 8-of-23 3s and 24-of-34 free throws. Dieng vs. Pope will be the matchup to watch. If either has a big day, his team will likely take the victory. The Pirates are 39th in the nation and sixth in the Big East with a 1.19-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Louisville ranks 11th in the league in that category with 307 assists and 304 turnovers. The Cardinals are sixth in the country and second in the Big East in field goal defense, allowing opponents to shoot 37.3 percent from the floor. However, the Cardinals allow 33.6 from beyond the 3-point line. Seton Hall plays strong perimeter defense. Its opponents shoot only 29.4 percent from deep, and Louisville is shooting only 31.8 from beyond the 3-point arc. Both teams are poor free throw shooting teams. Louisville is at 66.7 percent and the Pirates shoot 65.1 from the charity stripe. Louisville is second in the Big East and fourth in the nation with 9.8 steals per game. Eight different Cardinals have missed at least one game this season. Louisville sophomore Russ Smith is averaging 16 points, four assists and 3.8 steals during his last four games. He is sixth in the nation and second in the Big East in steals (2.6 per game).
The Pirates were unbeaten at home – winning their first 10 games at the Prudential Center – until Wednesday’s loss to Notre Dame. The Cardinals have played just six true road games, going 3-3. Louisville holds a 9-5 advantage in the all-time series, including last year’s 73-54 win at the KFC Yum! Center. Saturday’s game marks the 100th anniversary of the first game ever played by the University of Louisville. On Jan. 28, 1912, the Cardinals lost to the Louisville YMCA, 35-3.
The Bottom Line: Louisville would win at home and probably on a neutral court. At the Prudential Center, however, the Pirates will come out of their slump for a big win. They have too many weapons to slump for this long.
The Pick: Seton Hall 71, Louisville 64