The battle for the Big East regular-season title rages on Wednesday night when the No. 16 Seton Hall Pirates host the No. 21 Butler Bulldogs. At home, Seton Hall is favored by 6.5 points with an over/under of 134.5 points.
Butler has endured a tough stretch recently that has all but taken them out of the running for the Big East title.
The Bulldogs are fresh off a disappointing home loss to Georgetown over the weekend, giving them three losses in their last five games.
At 19-7 overall, Butler should be a lock for the NCAA Tournament. But with road games against Seton Hall and Creighton this week, the Bulldogs could see their seed in the Big Dance continue to drop.
Meanwhile, the Pirates are trying to maintain their hold on first place in the Big East. The Pirates started to run away with things but have lost two in a row and three of their last five games. They now hold just a one-game lead on Creighton with Villanova within striking distance as well.
Moreover, four of Seton Hall’s last five games will come against ranked teams, so things could slip away if they can’t get back on track quickly.
Starting to Slip
Myles Powell has been the key to Seton Hall’s season, but the Player of the Year candidate has had some ups and downs recently. He’s had off days shooting the ball two of the team’s recent losses. In an upset loss to Providence over the weekend, Powell seemed to get back on track with 27 points.
However, he also turned the ball over seven times and fouled out of the game, so things aren’t going his way these days.
If they’re going to break out of their funk, the Pirates will need more from their supporting cast. Point guard Quincy McKnight is carrying his weight with 12 points and over five assists per game.
However, Seton Hall needs more consistent production from Sandro Mamukelashvilli and Jared Rhoden, especially if teams are going to keep focusing on Powell and force someone else on the Pirates to beat them.
One of Butler’s biggest strengths this season has been its defense. While some of the better teams in the Big East have been able to post impressive point totals, the Bulldogs are allowing less than 62 points per game on the season.
That puts them among the top 20 teams in the country defensively. After seeing Seton Hall earlier this season, they should have a plan for how to keep Powell under wraps.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs will look to Kamar Baldwin to continue to lead their offense. He is Butler’s leading scorer with over 16 points per game. But Baldwin has also had a couple of poor shooting performances over the last week.
The Bulldogs need offensive help from other players, specifically sharpshooters Sean McDermott and Jordan Tucker, who can help free up space in the lane for Baldwin to attack the basket.
The Pirates may have lost a few games recently, but they haven’t played poorly. Butler also had trouble containing Powell when these teams met earlier this year, a 78-70 road win for Seton Hall. Bet on the Pirates to cover the 6.5-point spread at home on Wednesday.