Craving a top-25 match-up at an awkward time on a Thursday in a sold-out arena? Then you’ll be excited as No. 7 Texas (6-1) and No. 23 Seton Hall (7-1) tip-off in the Big 12-Big East Battle.
Led by head coach Kevin Willard, the Pirates garnered national attention after upsetting No. 4 Michigan in Ann Arbor with a come from behind 67-65 victory. They were a buzzer-beater away from forcing overtime against Ohio State as well. So far, the Pirates are 2-1 against quadrant 1 teams in the NCAA net rankings, with a three-point victory over California in the Fort Myers Tip-Off.
The Pirates are a big team in general, with a pair of 6’10” forwards in Tyrese Samuel and Tray Jackson and 7’2” center Ike Obiagu. Alexis Yetna also adds some size at 6’8” and helps make Seton Hall one of the best rebounding teams in the nation. Their plus-8 rebounding margin is 25th in the nation and they also average 32.5 offensive rebounds per game. Texas averages 32 total rebounds per game.
The Pirates were outrebounded by six against Michigan and let Hunter Dickinson find success down low with 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting. However, the Wolverines are a better team on the glass than the Horns. But it does prove that maybe Tre Mitchell can find buckets on the block.
Ogiagu’s 2.9 blocks per game rank 21st in the nation, with Seton Hall averaging just over five blocks per game. Their defensive efficiency ranks 30th overall, per KenPom. Opponents are shooting just over 38% from the floor and 27% from deep.
I talked about how big their frontcourt is, but the same goes for their backcourt. Six of their guards are listed at 6’5” or above, including Jared Rhoden who’s been the Pirates best player this season. Rhoden leads the team in points and rebounds per game with 17.6 points and 7.4 rebounds.
They don’t shoot a high amount of 3-pointers compared to other Division 1 teams but are capable of getting hot as they did down the stretch against Michigan to close down a double-digit deficit. Guard Jamir Harris is shooting 39.2% from deep and leads the team with over six attempts per game.
Coach Willard’s offense is a bit faster than Texas, ranking 64th in adjusted tempo efficiency per KenPom, and average about six shots more per game than the Horns. The Pirates shoot 46.6% from the floor and their 82.5 points per game rank 27th in the country.
Thursday’s game should be a fun, entertaining game and I’m curious to see how Texas defense holds up against Seton Hall. The Horns only allow 55.3 points per game but have only faced one team (Gonzaga, in case it wasn’t obvious) in quadrant 1. Seton Hall will be the 2nd quadrant 1 opponent that Texas will face this season.
It should be a raucous environment at the Prudential Center and another daunting road test for Chris Beard’s Longhorns.
How to Watch:
Time: 5:30 p.m. Central
Radio: Texassports.com affiliates
Odds: The Longhorns are 2-point favorites over the Pirates, according to DraftKings.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.