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ALONG CAME ... SETON HALL

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Both teams are eyeing a run in this year’s tourney

Gonzaga v Seton Hall
Khadeen Carrington #0 of the Seton Hall Pirates and Eric McClellan #23 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs vie for posession in the second half during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Pepsi Center on March 17, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

After taking down two less-than-stellar foes in Kennesaw State and Savannah State to start out the season 2-0, the Iowa basketball team has its first real test tonight when Seton Hall comes to town.

The Pirates won the Big East Tournament last year for the first time in 23 years, and earned a six seed in the tourney in doing so. Seton Hall got upset in the first round, falling to an (under-seeded) No. 11 Gonazaga team.

Seton Hall has high hopes for this year, but lost perhaps its best player from last year’s team in Isaiah Whitehead.

The good news for the Pirates is that Khadeen Carrington returns this year, and that guy can BALL.

Know Yer Pirates

Seton Hall is getting some votes in the most recent AP and Coaches polls, but as we all know those don’t mean too much at this point of the season. The Pirates have also taken down both its cupcake opponents this year, trouncing Fairleigh-Dickinson and Central Connecticut.

In addition to the aforementioned Carrington, the Pirates return Desi Rodriguez and Angel Delgado, the three of whom made up nearly 60 percent of the scoring Seton Hall did a year ago. Carrington has led the Pirates in their first two games (27 and 18 points, respectively) while Delgado has been the leading rebounder (14 and 16 boards). Delgado is known as the best rebounder in the Big East, if not the country, as shown during his 19-point, 19-rebound effort against DePaul as a freshman.

That troika of juniors for Seton Hall might prove to be the deciding factor against a young Iowa squad that hasn’t really had the chance to develop any sort of meaningful cohesion on the court yet. If I’m Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard (and I’m not!) I’m feeding the 6-10, 240-lb Delgado early and often under the rim to test these young, if not undersized, Hawkeyes. If nothing else, he will be used to draw in a couple defenders while kicking it out to Carrington or freshman shooting guard Myles Powell, who comes to the team as a four-star recruit.

Fran it up

Look for Iowa to spread it around. This team has a numbers advantage (at least on the surface) and could wear down Seton Hall on Iowa’s home court. Nicholas Baer, Christian Williams and whoever else is on the floor will keep up the pace and share the rock as they try and get open looks for Peter Jok. Baer will try and find mismatches, while I would love to see Cordell Pemsl get as involved in the scoring as he did in Iowa’s first two games.

In any case, this is the most excited I have been for an Iowa game in some time. Seton Hall is likely a tourney team, while it appears Iowa at least has the potential. This test will tell us a lot about this squad.

McCaffery addressed the media about the upcoming matchup yesterday, and gave us hints of what to look for when these teams take the floor:

The thing about them is -- obviously they're coming off a 25-win season. They beat Villanova in the Big East championship game, and they replaced the one guy who went to the league with a fifth-year guy. So you got four juniors and a fifth-year senior. But they have an expectation of winning. They have a winning culture. Kevin's a terrific coach. I've known him a long time. I used to go against him when I was at Siena and he was at Iona. So they present a lot of challenge. They have size. They have tremendous speed. They have experience. They have a multitude of scorers. And I think they have a sufficient amount of depth. And they're going to challenge you with some defenses, and I think ultimately an innate ability to compete. And that's what these kids do. If you watch them over and over like I have, they're all capable of making plays at the end of the game. They all play defense. They all run the floor, and they just kind of keep coming at you.

I expect a close game in Iowa City, but I’m afraid Seton Hall’s experienced lineup is too much for Iowa’s greenhorns, and we see our first L of the season.

How to watch

The game is at 8:00 pm tonight on BTN (thank the lord BTN plus is out of the equation here).

There are still tickets left for the game if you’re in town!

The game can also be accessed via the Hawkeye Radio Network.

Degenerates

It wouldn’t be a true basketball preview if I didn’t mention Brent Musburger’s Friends in the Desert, so here’s what Vegas has to say about this game:

As of this writing, Iowa is a 1-point favorite over the Pirates, which home court advantage early in the season, I get. HOWEVAH, the line opened at Iowa -2.5, so that means some solid money is being wagered on Seton Hall at places where that sort of thing is legal.

The over/under is 156.5 right now and I don’t really know enough about either team to lean one way or another on that.

Have a great Thursday everyone.