Kevin Willard will have a homecoming of sorts when No. 24 Seton Hall plays its first true road game of the season Sunday at No. 17 Louisville. Willard started his college playing career at Western Kentucky and spent seven years as an assistant coach with the Cardinals, who have won five straight against the Pirates.
Willard and the Pirates are coming off what must be considered their best game of the season after putting up 89 points on No. 22 Texas Tech, which entered the game with one of the top defenses in the country. A 9-0 run, including seven straight points by Myles Powell, allowed the Pirates to put the game away and win their second straight since a two-point loss to Rhode Island. “I have the best shooter in the country on my team and anytime he shoots, it looks like it’s going in,” Willard told reporters about Powell. “Myles is in a great position because he is playing with four experienced guys.” The Cardinals will need to rebound from their first loss of the season to Purdue in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, but there is no better place to do that than at the KFC Yum! Center, where they have won 58 of their last 59 games out of conference.
TV: 4 p.m. ET, ESPN2
ABOUT SETON HALL (6-1): Powell and senior point guard Khadeen Carrington should have an edge against their counterparts from Louisville, namely Darius Perry and Quentin Snider. When he is hitting from beyond the arc as he was against Texas Tech, Powell is capable of leading the Pirates, who boast three 1,000-point scorers, in scoring. Carrington is averaging six fewer points than he did last season, but his assists are up, and his turnovers are down.
ABOUT LOUISVILLE (4-1): The game will feature a matchup of some of the nation’s best big men as Louisville’s Deng Adel, Ray Spalding, Anas Mahmoud and V.J. King will do battle with Angel Delgado, Desi Rodriguez and Ismael Sanogo of Seton Hall. Deng leads the team in scoring and Spalding, like Delgado, averages nearly a double-double for first-year coach David Padgett. Mahmoud, a 7-0 center from Egypt, brings 8.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game for the Cardinals, who are one of four teams to win 20 or more games in each of the last 15 seasons.
1. The Pirates, who are 1-6 in road games against Louisville, are 26-8 when Rodriguez scores at least 15 points.
2. Snider needs 180 points to become the 68th member of Louisville’s 1,000-point club.
3. Louisville was ranked second in the nation in blocks per game (7.4) and 23rd in rebounds (42.4) entering Saturday.
PREDICTION: Louisville 86, Seton Hall 83