What: Men’s basketball (3-1) vs. Seton Hall (4-0)
Where: Prudential Center, Newark, N.J.
When: Saturday, Nov. 29 at 4 p.m.
Two evenly matched teams – projections have this a one-possession game – will go strength-on-strength Saturday: GW’s stingy defense against a Seton Hall offense that has scored 80 points in back-to-back games.
The Pirates sail home from the Virgin Islands with the Paradise Jam title in hand, looking to prove their success was not merely because of a bracket lampooning at the tournament, which matched them up with Nevada, Gardner Webb and Illinois State. Meanwhile, the Colonials will try to play more smoothly together than they did against Longwood on Wednesday.
The Pirates are slightly favored at home, but the game will likely come down to which squad is able to recover quickly from its last game and bring energy to the Prudential Center.
The case for Seton Hall:
After playing just three days before, fatigue may work against the Colonials. Head coach Mike Lonergan lamented having to give his starters serious minutes in the Longwood game, which was more competitive than anticipated. Patricio Garino, Kevin Larsen and Joe McDonald each played over 30 minutes.
Junior Sterling Gibbs has been on fire for the Pirates, putting up a 40-spot in the Paradise Jam finale. The guard is averaging 22 points per game – and any player shooting .542, .632 from beyond the arc and .889 from the charity stripe is going to be tough to stop.
Highly touted freshman prospect Isaiah Whitehead seems to be getting his sea legs, scoring 18 points with six assists against Illinois State, and the guard combo of Whitehead and Gibbs will be a tough matchup for the GW backcourt.
The case for GW:
The inside game has been shaky at times during this young season for GW, but it should have the advantage on Saturday.
Freshman Angel Delgado is averaging over 10 points per game, but was shut down in the Pirates’ most recent contest where the freshman forward scored just one point. The combination of Kevin Larsen, John Kopriva and Yuta Watanabe’s versatility will be tough for Delgado along with Brandon Mobley and Rashed Anthony to guard.
Through four games, the Pirates have been averaging a better shooting percentage, .467, on three-pointers than on two-point field goals, where they are shooting .438. That sharp-shooting success could run smack into the Colonials’ stellar three-point defense, which is allowing opponents just three triples per game on .214 shooting.
Seton Hall has a talented crop of freshmen, including Whitehead and Delgado, but GW’s maturity advantage should also come in handy both as a team that starts more upperclassmen and has already faced tough competition this season. One thing the Colonials have yet to do is clamp down with a big run when it actually matters, and Saturday could change that if Seton Hall’s rookies get flustered with the new level of competition.