The Seton Hall men’s basketball team plays the biggest game of an era on Saturday, going up against No. 1 seed Kansas. The Jayhawks come into the game as a favorite with longtime head coach Bill Self and integral seniors in Devonté Graham and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, but much is unknown about the team beyond that.
To help fill in the missing pieces, The Setonian got in touch with Kansas’ student voice, The University Daily Kansan, and spoke with sports editor Michael Swain to get his opinion on the upcoming match-up. Here is what Swain had to say.
The first question has to do with a piece you wrote Friday about Angel Delgado, and how you believe he could be the man that prevents Kansas from making it to the Sweet 16. What scares you the most about Delgado?
I think that Delgado’s all-around ability is really what makes him dangerous for Kansas. Mitch Lightfoot is good, but against size, he really struggles. Take [Sagaba] Konate from West Virginia for example. Konate killed Lightfoot with his size. With Kansas’ other big [Silvio] De Sousa, Delgado could be able to take advantage of De Sousa’s inexperience. With Udoka Azubuike only able to play 15 to 20 minutes, Delgado will have plenty of time going against Lightfoot and De Sousa
Interesting you singled out Delgado in your piece – a player who was back and forth on whether he would jump to the professional ranks – because I want to ask you about a returning senior for the Jayhawks, Devonte’ Graham. The Pirates have a pretty good point guard themselves in Khadeen Carrington, but do you still see Graham as a mismatch?
I honestly think Graham is a mismatch going against just about any point guard. He dominated former National Player of the Year candidate Trae Young. He averaged 16.3 points this season against Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Jevon Carter. Although Graham is not at the top half of many draft boards, he is an incredible player.
The Jayhawks come into the tournament 28-7, with a Big 12 Tournament title. However, there are also a couple losses that stand out on the schedule to the likes of Oklahoma State and Arizona State – both in Allen Fieldhouse – that have people questioning their No. 1 status, and their ability to make a run at the title. Is the same skepticism present in Lawrence?
It depends who you ask. Many fans do not expect much out of this team and those same fans would not be surprised if Kansas doesn’t make it to the Elite 8. There are others though that believe this team can make a Final Four because of the senior talent and leadership.
Seton Hall and Kansas are in some ways a fitting pairing, considering both teams’ significant struggles from the free throw line in recent years. Have the Jayhawks gotten better from the stripe this year, and who is their one reliable man down the stretch that can make two pivotal free throws?
The go-to guy for Kansas, of course, is Devonte’ Graham. But Malik Newman and Svi Mykhailiuk are both viable from the line. The last players Kanas fans want to see at the line is anyone taller than 6-foot-9, i.e. Mitch Lightfoot, Silvio De Sousa, and especially Udoka Azubuike. Marcus Garrett also isn’t battle-tested at the line.
Finally, what will have to happen for Seton Hall to pull off the upset and take down the No. 1-seeded Jayhawks?
Delgado will need to have a game like he did against Butler two times in the regular season. He needs at least 20 points and 15 rebounds, with at least six being offensive. Kansas will also need to be ice cold from three and unable to get anything from its big men.
James Justice can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JamesJusticeIII.