Here we are again Musketeers. Another Saturday with a noon tipoff on Fox Sports 1. This time the boys will be facing Seton Hall. As many of you remember, we pulled off an upset by beating them at home earlier this month, so now we head north to New Jersey for the matchup. Lucky for you, we sat down with our friend Chris McManus over at South Orange Juice to ask him questions about the Pirates.
1.) Since we last met, the Pirates have went 2-3 in conference play with a heartbreaking loss to Butler. How is Pirate Land feeling right now?
Seton Hall's win at Marquette on Thursday night drove a large portion of Pirate fans back from the ledge, and it's partially justified. Dropping to 3-5 in conference play would have been a decent hole to dig out of if Seton Hall has NCAA aspirations and would have put a lot more pressure on Saturday's game.
2.) Whitehead missed some time with a stress fracture, but reports are saying that he is practicing again. Will he play in Saturday's game and what should we expect from him?
I expect him to play (here's the latest), but I'm not sure what he'll be able to do on the court. Saturday is a day shy of six weeks since the last time he saw action and it sounds like Willard is going to be cautious with him not so much because of the stress fracture but due to other aspects of his conditioning that have taken a hit from the time off.
3.) Sterling Gibbs has really impressed me most nights (excusing the DePaul game) in conference play. For the Musketeer fans who do not regularly see Seton Hall play, can you describe his game?
Gibbs is not a natural point guard that just happens to have the all-around skill set that makes him effective as a lead guard. Last season he was known more for getting into the lane and scoring or drawing fouls, but he's added a consistent (53-117, 45%) three-point shot and is actively learning to facilitate. When Gibbs gets his teammates involved like he did against Marquette and St. John's, Seton Hall is really hard to stop even without Whitehead.
He can take defenders off the dribble and creates his own shot but needs to work a bit on consistently getting others involved like a natural point guard and get a little stronger at the rim.
4.) Who are you picking to win the Super Bowl?
I haven't watched a down of the NFL all season (used to be a Giants fan), but I'll take the Patriots because that will conjure the funniest media/fan storm post-game. Was actually quite fond of them during their early dynasty years when Brady first emerged on the scene.
5.) Stewart Mandell on TV has y'all projected to be an 8 seed in the tournament. Do you agree with this?
More or less. I've started rounding up Seton Hall's projected seed over the last two weeks and it seems like a 9- or 10-seed is more accurate going into this week. I took a look at one projection that had Seton Hall as a 7-seed and all four 8-seeds had definitively better resumes than the Pirates. They aren't quite on the bubble yet, but they're close.
6.) If I was traveling to the Prudential for the game, where would you recommend I eat and drink at before and after the game?
The Ironbound has a handful of great Portuguese places, most notably Fornos (not cheap), which is a 5-minute walk from Penn Station. I don't have too much first-hand experience with venues closer to the Prudential Center for Seton Hall games, but Brick City Bar and Grill is steps away from the box office and is packed for Devils games if you want a more casual burger/fries type experience.
Since the game is at noon, these would probably be post-game options.
7.) Prediction on how this game will go?
I didn't think Seton Hall played too poorly at the Cintas Center, but Xavier went on a decent run in each half and the Pirates couldn't get their offense going early, resulting in some tough shots as they began to force. I broke down Seton Hall's offensive struggles in-depth here, with Remy Abell doing a good job on Gibbs and Matt Stainbrook shuffling his feet well to help on high ball screens. If Seton Hall can crack that egg, then they have a good shot. If Whitehead's return goes smoothly, that's an added boost too.
If I had to pick a final score, 69-67 Seton Hall.