The Kansas Jayhawks face off against the Seton Hall Pirates today in the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament in Wichita, KS. To help the fans prepare for what we can expect to see, I caught up with Matt Ambrose over at Big East Coast Bias, the SB Nation site covering all of the Big East. He was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.
RCT: How happy were Seton Hall fans with the seed and draw they received?
BECB: Me personally, I thought the seed that the Pirates received was right on the nose. However, many Pirates fans got caught up in the Bracketology realm, where many were saying the Pirates were a seven seed. Fans were not happy with the draw, not just for the matchup with Kansas in the 2nd round, but for being put in a region with Michigan State and Duke. It’s unquestionably a very difficult draw for the Pirates.
RCT: What does this team do well, and how can they use that to attack the Jayhawks?
BECB: This team does a great job at manufacturing their own shot. You won’t see many genius plays drawn up by Kevin Willard, but all the players that will step on the floor for Seton Hall do a great job at finding their own shot. Khadeen Carrington is a elite slasher, and is a top-10 scorer in program history. He has struggled this season adjusting to the point guard position, however when he focuses on scoring, this team is scary. Pair that with the freakish athleticism of Desi Rodriguez, the glass-crashing of Angel Delgado, and the elite defense of Ismael Sanogo, and this team can beat anyone in the nation.
RCT: What are the main weaknesses of this team, and how well do you think the Jayhawks will be about to exploit them?
BECB: A high volume of turnovers can doom this Pirates team. On Thursday against NC State, they committed just seven, their second-lowest total of the season, and as a result they had their best offensive showing of the season. If Kansas’ defense is able to create pressure defensively and force lots of turnovers, this one could get ugly. Seton Hall has to value the basketball and not give Kansas free possessions, something they did to perfection on Thursday.
RCT: What is the key matchup that will likely decide this game?
BECB: Devonte Graham against whoever Kevin Willard decides to put on the Big 12 Player of the Year. Personally, I would put Ismael Sanogo on Graham, as Sanogo is the Pirates’ best defender and probably the best defender in the Big East. He matches up better size-wise with Svi Mykhailiuk, but Graham is the man that Seton Hall must keep in check to win this game. The matchup with Delgado and Azubuike is also of note, but Graham is the single most dangerous player on the floor. He has to be limited.
RCT: Prediction Time! Who gets to move on to Omaha next week?
BECB: I really do believe that Seton Hall has a very good chance to win this game. This team tends to perform their best when the odds are stacked against them. This group of seniors (Carrington, Delgado, Rodriguez, Sanogo) has played up to superior opponents time and time again. This is their last hurrah, and after securing the program’s first NCAA Tournament win since 2004 on Thursday, they don’t want this ride to end now. Yup, I’m calling the upset. I think the Pirates find a way to limit Devonte Graham and Khadeen Carrington has yet another monster game as Seton Hall pulls off the upset. Seton Hall 77 Kansas 71.
RCT: BONUS - What was/is your favorite video game of all-time (any platform)?
BECB: I’ll tell ya what. Sports video games are all that I play. But man, MVP Baseball 2005 on the Nintendo GameCube was my JAM growing up. I played that game for years, and I still occasionally fire up that old hunk of junk GameCube to play that game nowadays. That game was so much damn fun to play.
A big thanks to Matt for helping us out. And don’t forget to check out the questions I answered for him over on Big East Coast Bias.