By Andrea Keppler
After graduating four starters from last season, the Seton Hall men’s basketball team’s 2019 campaign was looking more like a transition year rather than a year to reclaim the Big East championship title. With an eighth place preseason projection in the conference, the standards were low for Kevin Willard’s squad, but the Pirates quickly silenced these doubts with big non-conference wins over Kentucky and Maryland early on in the season.
The Hall was selected to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive year on Sunday as the No. 10 seed in the Midwest Region. However, the road to Jacksonville wasn’t an easy path for the Pirates as their chances of securing a tournament berth seemed unlikely after falling twice to DePaul, going on a four-game losing streak in January and then digging themselves into a 23-point deficit against St. John’s on February 23 at Madison Square Garden.
Despite the team’s inconsistencies, the Pirates ended the season on a high note securing wins over Marquette and Villanova and finishing second in last week’s Big East Tournament. Now Myles Powell and Co. will have to face the music and dance on Thursday night against Wofford’s robust offense led by shooting guard Fletcher Magee.
Magee is considered “one of the most prolific three-point shot [makers]” in college basketball history and could break the all-time three-pointers made record if he sinks three baskets from long range on Thursday night. The senior guard also leads Wofford with 20.5 points per game and a 90.7 free-throw percentage.
The Terriers’ scoring is also not as lopsided as that of Seton Hall as their offense is rounded out by Cameron Jackson and Nathan Hoover who average 14.6 and 13.3 points per game, respectively. Even with the stellar shooting from Magee, Wofford better distributes the ball than the Pirates as they edge them with 15.4 assists per game.
Seton Hall has been trying to find their second scorer throughout the 2019 campaign to support Powell whose regular-season performance of 22.9 points per game placed him among the top 15 scorers in the nation. However, finding a solution to the offense this late into the season might have to wait until next year for the Hall.
The Terriers’ 57.8 field goal percent places them fourth among Division I teams, but their deadliest weapon is their ability to score from beyond the arc. Seton Hall has plenty of experience playing against strong-shooting teams from downtown like Villanova who averages 30 three-point attempts per game, but the Pirates have to tighten their defense at the perimeter when facing the Terriers whose 41.6 percentage from long range is second-best in nation.
Seton Hall has proven their capabilities throughout the season and have shattered expectations, but this time there is no guaranteed next game and the Pirates have to determine if the game against Wofford will be their last dance of the year.
Andrea Keppler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @keppler_andrea.