Seton Hall at Xavier
No. 4 Xavier has the inside track on a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but getting to this point hasn’t been easy – and staying there will be even tougher. The Musketeers seek their ninth consecutive victory Wednesday night against visiting Seton Hall in their final tuneup before their rematch with No. 2 Villanova.
Xavier appears to already be in tournament mode, with each of its past four games decided by five points or fewer. That stretch includes back-to-back overtime victories over Georgetown and Butler and a thrilling 72-71 triumph at Creighton last time out; Quentin Goodin was the hero in that one, knocking down the tying and winning free throws with three-tenths of a second remaining. “Every kid’s dream,” Goodin said. “Everybody wants to be in that situation. On the road, down … and your free throws are the game winners. I don’t think it’s any better than that.” Next up for the Musketeers: a date with a Seton Hall team that has dropped five of its last seven games – including a 73-64 setback to Xavier in their first meeting of the season.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
ABOUT SETON HALL (17-8, 6-6 Big East): The Pirates were nationally ranked earlier this season, but have struggled to make inroads in conference play – particularly on defense, as they’ve surrendered 80 or more points in seven of their first 12 Big East contests. Desi Rodriguez leads the team in scoring at 18.7 points per game and continues to be Seton Hall’s most consistent offensive option, scoring in double figures in all but two games. Angel Delgado contributes 13.3 points and ranks fifth in the nation in rebounding at 11.8 per contest; he was held to eight points in his first encounter with the Musketeers but pulled down a game-high 18 boards and is averaging 14.7 rebounds in his previous three meetings with Xavier.
ABOUT XAVIER (23-3, 11-2): Musketeers leading scorer Trevon Bluiett (18.9 ppg) had been the hero in both of Xavier’s overtime victories – pouring in a combined 57 points against the Hoyas and Bulldogs – but was off his game against the Bluejays, scoring just six points on 3-of-9 shooting while missing all four of his 3-point attempts. He did, however, contribute seven rebounds and four assists, and that dismal showing versus Creighton marks the only time this season he has been held to single digits. J.P. Macura came to life with 15 points after being held to seven or fewer in three of his previous four games, but he made just one of his six attempts from beyond the arc and is 2-for-16 from deep over his past five games.
1. Bluiett had been 12-for-19 on 3-pointers in two games prior to his goose-egg against Creighton.
2. Xavier ranks third in the nation in made free throws (476) and tied for 14th in attempts (617).
3. Macura poured in a season-high 27 points in his previous meeting with the Pirates.