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Wednesday, January 30, 2008


January 30, 2008

In this year's version of the Big East, a two game win streak can be considered 'hot'. In this case, the battle of New Jersey features two of the 'hottest' teams in the conference when Rutgers welcomes in-state rival Seton Hall to the RAC.

Local media preview articles:

Rutgers, Seton Hall Begin Turnarounds (Courier News)
RU/SHU Scouting Report (Courier News)
Hall Grows in Gause's Absence (Star-Ledger)
Rutgers/Seton Hall Still a Hot Ticket (Asbury Park Press)

Rutgers enters tonight's game full of surprising momentum after a week that saw them beat Villanova at home and then shock the Big East with a win at Pittsburgh, a win that seemed to shock their own players! Led by freshman guards Michael Coburn and Corey Chandler, with solid post play, especially on the glass and defensively, by Hamady N'Diaye and Byron Joynes, RU stormed past the Panthers on Saturday.

The Scarlet Knights stumbled out of the conference gates by looking completely in disarray, especially on the offensive side of the ball. After dropping thier first five, they were looking pretty hopeless and 0-18 whispers began. However, there is more talent on this team than what was being shown and they showed signs offensively at DePaul before a 2nd half collapse allowed a 2nd half lead slip away. JR Inman is a talented and athletic inside/out forward and Jaron Griffin and Anthony Farmer are also juniors who have logged a lot of Big East time and needed to step up. The freshman pair of Coburn and Chandler hold a lot of promise for the future, but the play of the juniors and the big man duo of N'Diaye and Joynes could determine how tough an out the Scarlet Knights are the rest of the way.

Seton Hall also started off slowly, losing their first three conference games. However, the Pirates have stormed back with aggression, winning four in a row (which matches last year's league total) with impressive wins against Louisville and at Providence included. Senior Brian Laing is consistently putting up big numbers as a do-it-all undersized forward with the heart of a lion and the perimter shooting combo of Jamar Nutter and Jeremy Hazell guarantees someone is on from the outside to help put up points in a hurry. The Pirates fly up and down the court and their ability to score fast and often allows them to rally from nearly any deficit no matter the situation.

Rutgers, who are thin on numbers, would like the game to be played at a slower pace. To force the pace to a speed they prefer, the Pirates will pressure the RU guards to induce quick shots and turnovers, that is where SHU is at their best, creating offense off of their defense. The slower the pace of the game, the less SHU can crank up the pace and use their style to their advantage. However, in a weekend win over Cincinnati, the Pirates showed they can buckle down if they have to.

Usually in this rivalry the home team has the edge. I am not convinced Rutgers is ready to beat a team as equally amped to play the game as they are...yet. You know Bobby Gonzalez will have his Pirates on edge for the game, sometimes that can work against a squad, but with the style of play the Pirates prefer, that is exactly what they need.

The RAC will rock, but in the end, SHU has a little too much offensive talent to get by in this one.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Seton Hall 80 Rutgers 71



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