Occasionally patience does get rewarded in revenue college sports. Seton Hall did not make the NCAA tournament in head coach Kevin Willard’s first five seasons, nor did it finish any of those seasons with a winning conference record. But the Pirates are now in the field for the third consecutive year, and with an experienced roster they are talented enough to win a couple games.
But winning has been the rub so far—the Pirates were one-and-done in each of the last two seasons, and you can bet this senior-laden team will be desperate to put an end to that. Continuity has been good to Willard’s program—his team has four seniors who haven’t played anywhere else, and they are all major reasons for SHU’s success.
First and foremost there is Desi Rodriguez, the outstanding 6’6 wing forward, who is a threat to score both inside and outside. He is making 57.3% of his twos and 37.9% of his threes despite taking more than 29% of the Hall’s shots while he is on the floor. Rodriguez is the ideal primary scorer, capable of doing a little bit of everything, and more importantly, capable of shouldering a significant workload while remaining efficient.
Fellow seniors Khadeen Carrington—a guard—and Angel Delgado—a power forward—will also figure heavily into Seton Hall’s offense. Carrington isn’t a great shooter, but he is adept at getting to the free throw line, where he shoots better than 83%. Delgado is a monster on the boards, ranking in the top 20 in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage.
With those three leading the way, Seton Hall’s offense has been outstanding this season, ranking 25th in offensive efficiency. (That’s one spot below the NC State offense.) This is not an exceptional shooting team, but it has no glaring weaknesses outside of free throw shooting, and it grabs a lot of its missed shots. Aside from Delgado, two other guys rank in the top 500 nationally in OR%.
On the defensive side, Seton Hall has been solid if unremarkable—the Pirates’ interior defense is only average and they don’t block a lot of shots. Delgado isn’t a great rim protector, despite his stature. This is good news for NC State, which has been prone at times to getting a lot of its field goal attempts blocked.
The Pirates are only average on the defensive boards—offensive rebounding and defensive rebounding are separate skills and this is one of many good examples—and they aren’t inclined to force a lot of turnovers, either. But again there are no glaring weaknesses, and you can make a decent living doing everything average-to-pretty-good.
This game isn’t likely to be short on points, what with a pair of top-25 offenses up against a couple of defenses that have had their share of problems in 2018. And Seton Hall is no more interested in turning the game into a bogged-down halfcourt gross-fest than the Wolfpack are. The Pomeroy Ratings have this game as a toss-up, with SHU a one-point favorite.