Stony Brook (22-9) at Seton Hall (20-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, March 13, 7:15 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Walsh Gymnasium (2,600) -- South Orange, New Jersey. Television: ESPN3.com. NIT Record: Stony Brook 0-1, Seton Hall 7-17. Series Record: Seton Hall leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: The Big East Conference clashes with the America East Conference in the first round of the 2012 National Invitation Tournament tonight, as the top-seeded Seton Hall Pirates play host to the eighth-seeded Stony Brook Seawolves.
The winner will take on either Mississippi State or Massachusetts in the second round later this week.
Seton Hall started the season as one of the Big East's best squads, winning 15 of its first 17 games. The Pirates then fell out of the national spotlight after losing 10 of their last 15 games, including demoralizing setbacks to Rutgers and DePaul to close out the regular season. As a result, the team did not receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, instead settling for a No. 1 seed in the NIT.
At 22-9, Stony Brook had a fantastic season in the America East. It finished the campaign by winning 19 of its last 22 games and was the top seed in the conference tournament, although it lost out on an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by falling to Vermont in the championship game, 51-43. Still, the Seawolves earned only their second postseason tournament invite ever.
Seton Hall has won both meetings in the all-time series with Stony Brook, the last coming in a 78-71 final back on Dec. 31, 2002.
In a super-conference like the Big East, it's easy to get lost in the shuffle, but Seton Hall made its claim by scoring 68.6 ppg with a scoring margin of +5.1, ranking higher than NCAA Tournament-bound teams Notre Dame and Connecticut. The Pirates' offense has been fueled by the top three-point shooting attack in the league, draining 225 treys at a 35.9 percent clip. SHU had one of the best guard-forward combinations in the conference with Jordan Theodore and Herb Pope. Theodore ranked ninth in scoring with 16.0 ppg, and he dished out the second-most assists at 6.7 per contest. Pop was a menace in the paint, tallying 15.2 ppg, 1.6 bpg and 10.3 rpg, second-most to only West Virginia's Kevin Jones (11.1 rpg). Fuquan Edwin also had a solid year, averaging 12.5 ppg and 6.3 rpg, and his 2.9 steals per game rank second in the nation.
While Stony Brook put up decent offensive numbers in the America East (66.6 ppg), the real secret to its success was its stout defense, which allowed only 59.0 ppg and it held opponents to less than that average in four of its last five games. The Seawolves are also fundamentally sound, ranking first in the conference in both rebounding margin (+7.9) and turnover margin (+1.42). They lack star power, although each member of the starting five contributes at least 8.0 ppg. Bryan Dougher (13.2 ppg) and Dave Coley (10.0 ppg) are running mates at the guard position, while Dallas Joyner (8.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg), Al Rapier (8.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and Tommy Brenton (8.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.6 spg) all shoot at least 51 percent from the floor.
Despite how impressive Stony Brook's season may have been by AEC standards, its best non-conference wins this year have come against Cornell, Columbia and Rider. The Seawolves simply do not have the talent to keep pace with the Pirates in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Seton Hall 77, Stony Brook 63
03/13 10:44:59 ET