Kevin Willard's Seton Hall Pirates are looking to move to 7-2 on the season as they face a Wake Forest team coming off of an 11 point victory over High Point.
Seton Hall defeated NJIT 68-59 on Tuesday in a game that I'm sure was closer than most Pirates fans would have liked.
Last year the Pirates defeated the Deacs 68-54 in a game that senior Herb Pope dominated with 26 points and 14 rebounds. Herb Pope is no longer a Pirate having graduated, but they still return plenty of talent for a team that finished 21-13 and made the second round of the NIT.
They are led by Jr. wing player Fuquan Edwin, who has come alive in his third year in New Jersey. His 120.3 offensive rating is 215th in the country, which is very good news for the Pirates since he takes 32.5% of the shots when he is on the floor (50th in the nation).
In last year's game Edwin scored 14 points on 6-12 shooting before fouling out in 31 minutes of play.
Seton Hall's wins this year have all come against teams worse than 200 in KenPom's rankings. Their two losses were against #87 Washington and #106 LSU. Wake Forest is currently ranked at #213 in the rankings, which will be the 3rd toughest team the Pirates have played so far. Their overall SOS is 323rd in the country.
The Pirates thrive on the defensive side of the ball, ranking 54th in adjusted defensive efficiency at 93.0 (.93 PPP). Specifically, they rank 20th best in the nation at steal percentage on the defensive side of the ball at 14.2% (14.2% of all defensive possessions end in steals).
To counter those stats Wake Forest will need to protect the ball well, which they are mediocre at, turning the ball over on 10.3% of their possessions so far this year (187th in the country).
Wake's offense overall sits at 100.0 adjusted efficiency (157th in the country). The Deacs will have their toughest test of the year so far defensively in the Pirates tough D.
Other than Edwin, the Deacs need to watch out for Sr. Kyle Smith, who plays 62% of the minutes, but is shooting 17-33 on three-pointers so far for the year. Smith has the make-up of a player that could tear the Deacs poor perimeter defense up. His offensive rating ranks 5th in the country at 150.7 (1.507 ppp when he is on the court).
His True Shooting Percentage is 72%, ranking 10th in the country.
Projected Seton Hall Starting Lineup
G- Tom Maayan
G- Fuquan Edwin
F- Brian Oliver
C- Gene Teague
Projected Wake Forest Starting Lineup
G- C.J. Harris
F- Travis McKie
C- Devin Thomas
Coach Bzdelik seemingly likes this starting line-up and I do too since Chase Fischer came out against High Point and drained a three-pointer immediately against a 2-3 zone. This seems to be working so I'll quell my Aaron Rountree starting calls (for now).
KenPom Prediction: Seton Hall- 70 Wake Forest- 65 (68%)
BSD Prediction: Seton Hall- 66 Wake Forest- 64
Much like the Richmond game last weekend I believe that the Deacs will play better than we expect them to. Seton Hall has a very tough defense so it wouldn't surprise me to see Wake struggle, but I think something may have clicked recently as the freshmen continue to improve for head coach Jeff Bzdelik.
It actually wouldn't surprise me to see Wake pull off this upset at the Joel. Fans get in free with a $10 unwrapped present to donate for kids at the gate, so give a present and come watch Wake play!