DePaul vs. Rutgers (-3, 146)
Rutgers will likely have a little more on its mind than avenging a loss to DePaul last month when they meet in the opening round of the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. Despite a second-half scoring explosion from Myles Mack, the Scarlet Knights were unable to overcome the season-ending loss of leading scorer Eli Carter to a fractured right fibula in a 75-69 setback on Feb. 16 against the Blue Demons – one of DePaul’s two conference victories. The loss to the Blue Demons triggered a five-game losing streak, which ended in Friday’s 56-51 win at Seton Hall.
DePaul, which ranks last in the Big East in scoring and field-goal percentage defense, is in the midst of a six-game skid, losing by an average of 17.2 points. The Blue Demons are also searching for their first win in the Big East tournament since defeating Cincinnati in 2009, but have defeated Rutgers in each of their last two meetings. The winner of this contest will meet Notre Dame in the second round.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPNU
ABOUT DEPAUL (11-20): With two 3-pointers Saturday against Pittsburgh, junior Brandon Young (16.6 points, 4.6 assists) became the 17th player in school history to reach 100. As a result, he also became the first Blue Demon to record 1,200 points, 400 assists and 100 3-pointers for his career. Young and Connecticut’s Shabazz Napier were the only players in the conference to finish the regular season among the top eight in both points and assists. Cleveland Melvin did not start for the first time all season against Pittsburgh, but he posted his 100th career block - only the ninth player in school history to do so.
ABOUT RUTGERS (14-15): Mack has been one of the bright spots for the Scarlet Knights, who fell off after beginning the season 12-4, including a 3-2 start in the conference. The sophomore ranks first among the league’s guards in field goal percentage (48 percent), leads the Big East in 3-point field goal percentage (45.1) and is second in conference in free throw percentage (87.8). Mack followed up his 28-point outburst against DePaul with 24 against Villanova, but averaged only 11 points over the last four games. Jerome Seagears and Kadeem Jack initially increased their point production in Carter’s absence, but are averaging only 14.4 points combined over the last three contests.
* Blue Demons are 0-6 ATS in their last six games overall.
* Scarlet Knights are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall.
* Under is 4-0 in the last four meetings.
1. Four of the last five meetings have been decided by six points or less, including the last three.
2. DePaul’s opponents are shooting 54.6 percent from the field and averaging 82 points during its losing streak.
3. Rutgers averaged 59.6 points during league play – a sharp drop from its 74.3-point average during its non-conference schedule.
Seton Hall vs. South Florida (Pick, 116)
South Florida will attempt to continue its late-season resurgence on Tuesday when it meets Seton Hall in the opening round of the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden. The Bulls resided in the conference basement for most of the season, with a 55-47 home win over Georgetown on Jan. 23 serving as its only league win through 15 games. However, South Florida snapped a 10-game losing streak with consecutive victories over DePaul and Connecticut before falling in overtime at Cincinnati to close out the regular season.
The Pirates suffered their own misery during the conference schedule, enduring a nine-game slide following a win over South Florida in the teams’ only meeting on Jan. 23. Seton Hall ended its losing streak with a home victory over Villanova on Feb. 25, but closed out the regular season with consecutive losses to match the Bulls’ 3-15 conference record. The winner of this contest will meet Syracuse in the second round.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPNU
ABOUT SETON HALL (14-17): The Pirates have been ravaged by injuries as Fuquan Edwin (16.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.5 steals) is one of only four players that have played in all 31 games. Despite a constantly-changing supporting cast, Edwin ranks seventh in the conference in scoring, 17th in rebounding and second in steals. The Pirates averaged 15.9 turnovers and 20.7 fouls during conference play – both league-high marks – somewhat offsetting their Big East-best 135 3-pointers. In the January meeting, Seton Hall survived a minus-11 turnover margin by shooting 52.5 percent from the field – its best effort in Big East play.
ABOUT SOUTH FLORIDA (12-18): Much like last year, Victor Rudd (12.3 points, 7.1 rebounds) is closing out the season with a flurry, averaging 17.4 points and 8.6 rebounds over his last seven games since returning from a groin injury. Over that same stretch, the junior forward has posted three of his team-leading seven double-doubles. In their victories over the Blue Demons and Huskies, the Bulls – who finished last in the conference in field goal percentage (39.4) and 10th in 3-point field goal percentage (32) – shot 50 percent from the floor and 46.8 percent beyond the arc.
* Pirates are 8-2 ATS in the last 10 meetings.
* Under is 4-1 in the last five meetings.
* Pirates are 1-4 ATS in their last five games vs. a team with a losing record.
1. South Florida used 15 different starting lineups during the regular season while Seton Hall was forced to go with 14.
2. After scoring at least 70 points in 11 of its first 15 games, Seton Hall hasn’t reached that mark since.
3. The Bulls collected a season-high 11 steals in the first meeting.
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