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Friday, February 02, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: West Virginia @ Seton Hall

February 3, 2007

This is an interesting game. On the surface it looks like West Virginia all the way, but the Mountaineers need to guard against relaxing after getting the monkey off their back with their road win over Rutgers on Wednesday and keep from looking ahead to next week, where they return home to face Pittsburgh and UCLA. I am sure West Virginia is anxious to make a national statement, and having Pitt and UCLA at home gives them that chance, but they can't overlook Seton Hall in the meantime.

For the Pirates, they had an opportunity to take out some frustrations against Princeton on Monday night after Rutgers ran their Big East losing streak to three games last weekend. The Pirates are a small, perimeter orientated team that could match-up well with the Mountaineers. Seton Hall has the luxury of going small and not being at a huge mis-match, but how their young line-up deals with the intricate 1-3-1 zone defense of West Virginia will be very interesting.

For some reason the Meadowlands has been a difficult place for teams to find a comfort with their perimeter shot. Maybe it is the atmosphere of playing in front of less than 6,000 fans in an 18,000 seat Hockey stadium, but teams can certainly come out cold in Continental Airlines Arena. West Virginia relies on the match of the 3-pter more than any team in the conference. If they are going to launch 40 3-pters, chances are they will made 15 of them, forcing the opponent to shoot over 57% from 2-pt range to keep up. West Virginia rarely turns the ball over and looks to force turnovers with their trapping 1-3-1 zone, putting more pressure on the opposing offense to be as effecient as possible.

On paper, a match-up of Eugene Harvey, Jamar Nutter, Larry Davis, Brian Laing and Stan Gaines against Darris Nichols, Alex Ruoff, Frank Young, Joe Alexander and Rob Summers is not very one-sided for either side. Seton Hall will bring Paul Gause and John Garcia off the bench while WVU has Da'Sean Butler and Jamie Smalligan as their primary bench edge to West Virginia.

I really think Seton Hall is going to go all out for this game and might catch West Virginia off guard early on. West Virginia will likely adjust and get back into the game, and, in the end, I think they have just a little more down the stretch to get a second road win in a row.

NBE Blogger Prediction: West Virginia 77 Seton Hall 75


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