Two teams stuck in the middle of the Big East pack look to get back into title contention when Seton Hall hosts Louisville. SportsOptions.com pushes their two cents worth of betting preview to the middle of the college basketball table.
Louisville at Seton Hall (-1.5, 130)When: 8:00 PM ET, Saturday, January 28, 2012
Where: Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey
THE STORY: The Pirates have dropped three straight since making a brief appearance in the Top 25, including a 55-42 home loss to Notre Dame on Wednesday. Louisville has climbed back to .500 in conference play by winning two in a row, most recently 84-74 over Villanova.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Big East Network (WHAS, Louisville; SNY, New York/Newark), ESPN3.com
ABOUT LOUISVILLE (16-5, 4-4 Big East): Defense has fueled the Cardinals’ success this season – they rank second in the Big East in steals (9.8) and opponent field-goal percentage (37.6). Sophomore center Gorgui Dieng has been a force in the paint, leading the conference in blocked shots (3.3) while adding 10.3 points and 9.5 rebounds. The biggest hole in Louisville’s defense, however, has been on the perimeter – opponents are shooting 33.6 percent from 3-point range, which plays to Seton Hall’s biggest offensive strength.
ABOUT SETON HALL (15-5, 4-4): One of the youngest teams in the country (seven freshmen, five sophomores), the Pirates have been led in the right direction by a pair of dependable seniors. Forward Herb Pope leads the team with 16.1 points and 10.3 rebounds despite a woeful 2-for-16, five-point effort against Notre Dame, while point guard Jordan Theodore (16.0 points) is tied for the Big East lead with 7.2 assists. Defensively, sophomore guard Fuquan Edwin (14.0) leads the nation in steals with 3.1 per game. Seton Hall is second in the league in 3-point percentage (36.5).
1. The home team has won each of the five meetings since Louisville joined the Big East in 2005-06, with the Cardinals coasting to a 73-54 victory last season after the Pirates eked out an 80-77 win in 2010.
2. Louisville holds a 9-5 lead in the all-time series, which dates back to 1948, and has a 4-4 record overall at Seton Hall.
3. Seton Hall is second in the Big East in 3-point percentage defense (29.4), while Louisville is 14th among league teams in shooting the deep ball (31.8 percent).
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