Butler (14-16) vs. Seton Hall (15-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 12, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Madison Square Garden (19,763) -- New York, New York. Television: FOX Sports 1. Home Record: Butler 8-7, Seton Hall 10-8. Away Record: Butler 4-7, Seton Hall 4-7. Neutral Record: Butler 2-2, Seton Hall 1-1. Conference Record: Butler 4-14, Seton Hall 6-12. Series Record: Butler leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: First-round action of the Big East Conference Tournament heats up with a meeting between the ninth-seeded Butler Bulldogs and the eighth-seeded Seton Hall Pirates at Madison Square Garden.
The winner of this first-round contest will move on to play top-seeded Villanova on Thursday.
Butler started the year extremely strong, but faltered once it got into Big East Conference play. The Bulldogs suffered through a seven-game losing streak before winning their last two of the regular season, including a 71-54 victory over the very Pirates they'll face Wednesday.
Like Butler, Seton Hall started the year on positive notes, but had some trouble staying consistent in conference play. The Pirates dropped four of their last five games to end their regular-season schedule, which includes the loss to Butler on Saturday.
The Bulldogs lead the brief all-time series with Seton Hall, 2-0. Both of those wins for Butler came this season, as the team took its first victory on Jan. 29, then again this past weekend.
Butler jumped ahead of Seton Hall by 10 points at the end of the first half, 40-30, and then proceeded to drive the dagger even deeper into the Pirates in the second half en route to Butler's 17-point victory. Kellen Dunham scored 29 points to pace the Bulldogs, connecting on 11-of-14 shooting from the floor, including a perfect 7-of-7 from 3-point range. Khyle Marshall chipped in with 10 points and six rebounds, while Elijah Brown netted 10 of his own coming off the bench. Butler shot 51.1 percent in the winning effort.
Dunham has led a group of strong players for Butler in a tough transition season into Big East play. Dunham leads the team in scoring with a 16.8 ppg average, adding a healthy 4 rpg, 1.7 apg and .6 spg to his resume. Marshall is second on the team with a 14.7 ppg average, and Kameron Woods is the next closest at 7.5 ppg. Woods leads the team with 8.9 rpg, adding a team-best 0.9 bpg. Butler is scoring 69.2 ppg this season through 30 games played, and is giving up just 67.1 ppg to opponents.
Seton Hall couldn't do much to stop Butler early in the contest on Saturday, as the Bulldogs hit their first eight 3-pointer, including five from Dunham. Patrik Auda was the strong point for Seton Hall in the contest, netting a team-high 22 points with three blocked shots after coming off the bench. Sterling Gibbs chipped in 11 points, and center Eugene Teague added 10 with a team-high six rebounds in the loss. The Pirates connected on just 38.9 percent of their field-goal tries from the floor.
Fuquan Edwin has been a driving force for Seton Hall on the season, which was riddled with injuries to top players, including Edwin for a period of time. Edwin topped the squad with a 14.7 ppg average, hitting 45.6 percent of his shots from the field, and adding a team-best 74 steals. Gibbs was behind Edwin in the scoring category, netting 13.7 ppg with 121 assists to top the squad. Brian Oliver (10.8 ppg) and Teague (10.8 ppg, 7.7 rpg) round out the double- digit scorers on the year. The Pirates netted a healthy 72.7 ppg, and gave up 70.4 ppg to their opposition.
Seton Hal has had spurts of greatness this season, with key wins over Providence in double overtime, Xavier twice and Georgetown twice, but has struggled against inferior opponents. Butler had the edge over the Pirates this season, but the short trip from Newark to MSG should help SHU feel at home. Even still, the Bulldogs have a tough scoring defense that has handled the Pirates twice before, and can do it once again.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Butler 73, Seton Hall 68
03/12 10:34:31 ET