Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 1:15 PM EST odds are subject to change.
Seton Hall -20½ over Monmouth
Prudential Center - Newark, NJ
Streaming: FS1 (Fox Sports 1)
8:00 PM EST. Shaheen Holloway played for Seton Hall for four seasons, and he was an assistant coach under Kevin Willard for eight years before taking over at St. Peter’s. Mere days after leading those Peacocks all the way to the Elite Eight as a No. 15 seed, Holloway was named the new head coach at his alma mater. “Whirlwind is an understatement,” Holloway admitted. Holloway is right: calling his spring a whirlwind ride would be a disservice. On Feb. 20, he was the head coach of a 12-11 MAAC team that ranked 279th in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency metric. On Mar. 17, JJ Redick was tweeting about the sets he ran. On Mar. 27, he was coaching against North Carolina for the right to go to the Final Four. On Mar. 30, he was named Seton Hall’s head coach. Every single thing changed. In 38 days.
Shaheen Holloway runs really good stuff. One of the main reasons why Saint Peter’s was so effective in close NCAA Tournament games was because of his schemes. That said, the Peacocks’ strength was on the defensive end, finishing the year ranked 25th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency (KenPom). They led the MAAC in 2-point percentage defense, 3-point percentage defense, steal rate, turnover rate and finished second in block rate. That’s the mentality Holloway plans to instill in his iteration of the Seton Hall program. “They’re battle-tested,” Holloway said of his team. “They fit in my culture and match what I’m about: toughness.”
Truth be told, there are actually quite a few intriguing pieces on this Seton Hall roster, starting with the backcourt of Al-Amir Dawes, who transferred into the program from Clemson and Jamir Harris, a redshirt senior that averaged 7.9 points last season, for a starting spot. Kadary Richmond and freshman Jaquan Sanders, a Queens native and the reigning Mr. Basketball in New York, will also be responsible for much of Pirates’ shot-creation.
The defense is going to be there for the Pirates this season. Holloway preaches toughness and demands intensity, and the roster has a wealth of upperclassmen with size, length, athleticism and switchability. The Big East has at least nine teams that are good enough to get to the NCAA tournament if things break right. Seton Hall is certainly one of them. The Hall figures to be super motivated in its home opener to not only get off on the right foot but to establish an identity under their new coach. It’ll be all hands on deck fighting for playing time and that’s not a bad place to start. We’re seeing a ton of massive blowouts in the first two days and this looks like another one. Seton Hall could not have hand-picked another D1 team as ripe to get beat as the one they’ll face here.
The King Rice era of Monmouth basketball has been successful of late. After three poor seasons to begin his tenure, Rice has rattled off winning records in six of his last eight years. The Hawks eclipsed the 20-win mark this past season while finishing fourth in the MAAC. Their 158th-place finish on KenPom was their third-best of the 21st century. That very respectable pedigree has Monmouth overvalued here.
Not only does Monmouth take a step up in class this year in its move from the MAAC to the CAA but it also has to replace the majority of its contributors from last year. The Hawks lost all five starters from a team that seldomly used its bench — 313th in bench minutes percentage, according to KenPom. Moreover, they don’t bring back a single player who averaged more than 13 minutes per game last season. Without any transfer additions, Monmouth is up against it very early. We’re also taking notes. Teams in similar positions, that being starting from scratch or damn near it without proven talent, are getting destroyed and Monmouth fits the bill.
Seton Hall -20½ -109 (Risking 2.18 units - To Win: 2.00)