Marquette Golden Eagles (11-3, 2-1 Big East) at Seton Hall Pirates ()
Date: Saturday, January 6, 2024
Time: 11am Central
Location: Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey
Marquette Stats Leaders
Points: Tyler Kolek, 15.3 ppg
Rebounds: Oso Ighodaro, 6.7 rpg
Assists: Tyler Kolek, 6.3 apg
Seton Hall Stats Leaders
Points: Kadary Richmond, 15.3 ppg
Rebounds: Jaden Bediako, 7.9 rpg
Assists: Kadary Richmond, 4.4 apg
Seton Hall: #72
Game Projection: Marquette has a 68% chance of victory with a predicted score of 75-70.
So Far This Season: Seton Hall is a land of contrasts.
Through nine games, heck, call it 10, Seton Hall did not look like a good basketball team. They took four cracks at a Major Six conference opponent, and lost all four with two coming by double digit margins. The Pirates plummeted in the computers, dropping from a preseason mark of 56 on KenPom.com to #88 in the country heading into their game on December 17th with a record of 6-4.
And then they beat Missouri in Kansas City. Yes, Missouri’s not great, but a Major Six win is a major six win. And then they not only beat Connecticut, but they stomped out the Huskies, knocking off the then-#5 team in the country by 15 points, 75-60, at The Rock. Was that also the game that saw UConn big man Donovan Clingan suffer a foot injury that he has yet to recover from? Yes, but so what?
And yet, that somehow is not a turnaround point of the season for Seton Hall. What did they do for an encore of their biggest win of the season? They promptly took that win to Cincinnati three days later and shot it in the head in an alley behind a Skyline Chili, losing to Xavier, 74-54, giving up a backbreaking 17-2 run in the second half.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
On Wednesday night, Seton Hall opened up their post-Christmas schedule with a road trip against a Providence team that was 2-0 in league play and pushing their way into the AP top 25. SHU answered a 17-2 PC run with a 16-3 run of their own and opened up a 37-29 lead on the Friars BEFORE Bryce Hopkins suffered an ACL tear that will end his season. Then they blew that lead before outscoring the Friars 11-6 in the final five minutes and holding on for a 61-57 win.
I have no idea what to make of this team, and if you do, then I think you’re a liar.
Tempo Free Fun: Here’s the wildest part of their win over Providence, at least to me. Seton Hall is an elite offensive rebounding team. KenPom.com has them at #11 in the country in OR rate as of Thursday afternoon, hauling in 38% of their misses on the year, and they’ve been at 40% or better in five of their games. This is obviously very notable for you, the discerning Marquette fan, as the Golden Eagles are a mediocre at best defensive rebounding team, ranking #156 in the country right now.
On Wednesday night? Against the Friars? While getting to play 15 of 40 minutes against a Bryce-Hopkins-free team? 26.8%. That’s their worst offensive rebounding rate of the season. It’s the only time this year that they’ve beaten a Major Six opponent while pulling in less than 46% of their missed shots.
Now, sure, yes, it was SHU’s second best three-point shooting night of the season, going by percentages as they knocked in nearly 44% of their attempts. It was also their worst two-point shooting night of the season. The Pirates connected on just 14 of 42 attempts inside the arc, aka “shots that might be most likely to turn up offensive rebounds.” It is the only time this season that Seton Hall shot less than 47% on two-pointers and won anyway. And they did it without needing to grab offensive rebounds to make up for it.
Again: I have no idea what to make of this team. I suspect that head coach Shaheen Holloway doesn’t know, either.
Marquette is going to have to figure out a way to limit the effectiveness of Jaden Bediako. Yes, I get it, SHU didn’t do a lot of offensive rebounding on Wednesday night and won anyway. Cool. I’m still terrified of a 6’10”, 240 pound Canadian who is currently the #2 offensive rebounder in the country according to KenPom.com’s rebounding rate stats. He’s the best offensive rebounder that Marquette will have seen this season at 21.4% of Seton Hall’s misses while he’s on the floor, easily beating out the 16.2% that Purdue behemoth Zach Edey grabs, and sailing past UConn big man Donovan Clingan to be the best offensive rebounder that MU will see at any point this year.
One way to limit his effectiveness will be simply running him off the floor. Bediako has played more than 20 minutes just eight times this season. If Marquette can push the pace into the speeds they like to play at instead of the slowed down tempo that Seton Hall prefers, it might be hard for Bediako to be able to get his best energy going towards pulling shots off the glass. Making him chase Oso Ighodaro around the floor might also be a big deal, as we know that MU’s big man isn’t going to limit himself to hanging out in the post all game long. Getting Bediako off the floor might be useful on the other end of the court as well, as he’s top 60 in the country in block rate, too. Marquette has had some experience dealing with great shotblockers this season in Edey, Creighton’s Ryan Kalkbrenner, and UCLA’s Adem Bona, so they’ve got the tricks in their arsenal to figure it out while Bediako is on the floor, too.
The fact of the matter is that Seton Hall only looks like a competent team when Bediako is on the floor. Great offense, good enough defense with that offense with him...... and much, much worse when he’s on the bench.
You know what’s a sneaky good way to avoid needing to worry about Seton Hall and their offensive rebounding? Not letting them shoot. The Pirates are turning it over on 18.6% of possessions this season, and that number’s up to 20.5% in their three Big East games. Kadary Richmond does a lot of neat things for the Pirates — scoring, passing, steals, just for starters — but he also coughs it up 20% of the time. Freshman Isaiah Coleman has played at least 10 minutes in every game this season, and his turnover rate is north of 22%. If I were Shaheen Holloway, I wouldn’t be feeling great about Dylan Addae-Wusu (19.1%) or Al-Amir Dawes (17.2%) against a Golden Eagles defense that is trying to put a hand on every single pass that’s thrown in a game. Last year, Marquette forced turnovers on 23% and 39% of their possessions in their two games against Seton Hall, and Addae-Wusu coughed it up 11 times in three games against MU while playing for St. John’s.
If Marquette is hitting their three-pointers, all of this nitpicky detail about how to deal with rebounding and forcing turnovers might not matter in the slightest. The Pirates are not a good three-point shooting team (30.6%) and they know they aren’t good at it so they don’t do it. MU wants to shoot a bajillion threes a game, and they’ve yet to lose this year while connecting on more than 30% of their attempts. If the Golden Eagles catch fire and keep launching it, Seton Hall is not likely to keep up because either A) they’ll be trading twos for MU’s threes or B) they’ll be missing a whole mess of shots while trying to get into a shootout.
Stat Watch: Kam Jones is 24 points away from becoming Marquette’s 51st 1,000 point scorer, and 31 points away from passing Lloyd Walton for 50th place on the all-time scoring list.
Stat Watch #2: Oso Ighodaro is four blocks away from tying Ousmane Barro for 11th place on the career blocks list as well as becoming the 12th player in program history with 100 career blocks.
Stat Watch #3: Tyler Kolek is four assists away from tying and five away from passing Aaron Hutchins for fourth place on the all-time career assists chart.
Marquette Last 10 Games: 7-3, with wins in five of their last six.
Seton Hall Last 10 Games: 5-5, with wins in four of their last five.
All-Time Series: Marquette leads, 23-13
Current Streak: After back-to-back season series sweeps, Marquette has won four straight games against the Pirates.