The final game of four quality matchups Wednesday at the annual Battle 4 Atlantis tournament pits No. 13 Seton Hall against No. 11 Oregon in Nassau of The Bahamas.
The Ducks are 5-0 for the first time since the 2015-16 season, when they reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. But Wednesday’s game will be their first one outside of the state of Oregon this season, having played on their home court four times and once just up the freeway in Portland.
Oregon is led by senior point guard Payton Pritchard, who is off to a good start in the final year of what has been an illustrious college career. Pritchard is averaging 19.4 points, 5.6 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game.
Anthony Mathis, a transfer from New Mexico who was Pritchard’s high school teammate, is averaging 15.0 points per game and has hit 64.5 percent of this 3-pointers this season (20 for 31).
The Ducks are lacking in size but have already beaten a 13th-ranked team — Memphis — and a team that made the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 last season in Houston.
Mathis had 18 points against the Cougars on Friday night. But the trip all the way from the West Coast to Paradise Island in Nassau will be a true nonconference test for Mathis and the Ducks, with No. 6 North Carolina and No. 8 Gonzaga, Oregon’s potential Thursday night opponent, in the Battle 4 Atlantis field.
“This is one of the best starts I’ve had in my college career. We’re doing really great things but at the same time we’ve got a lot of things we need to fix, obviously rebounding is one of them, second chance points,” Mathis told the school’s athletics website.
“We need to execute a little better on offense, so I’m happy but not satisfied. We’ve got a tough schedule coming up these next few games and we’re going to see who we really are.”
The Pirates (4-1) have a shorter travel time to get to the tournament, and despite a 76-73 loss to No. 3 Michigan State on Nov. 14, Seton Hall has crushed every other team it has faced, winning by at least 17 points.
Seton Hall tuned up for its trip to The Bahamas with an 87-51 win over Florida A&M on Saturday. Myles Powell led the way with 23 points, his fourth game with at least 20 points this season.
Powell, a senior guard, leads Seton Hall in scoring with an average of 22.6 points per game.
Sophomore forward Jared Rhoden posted his first career double-double, finishing Saturday with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Pirates coach Kevin Willard expressed some displeasure at the scheduling for his team at the Battle 4 Atlantis. The winner of Wednesday night’s game goes from a 9:30 p.m. ET tipoff to a 4 p.m. start the following day against the winner of Gonzaga and Southern Mississippi.
“I don’t think it’s very good for having the elite teams that are in this tournament. I don’t know how you can play a 9:30 game and then come back and play a 4:00 game, it just doesn’t make any sense,” Willard told the Asbury Park Press.
“I know why it’s done, but it makes it very hard to win, to be honest with you. … You lose a 4:00 game and the NCAA Selection Committee just sees a loss, they don’t see the fact that you got done at 1 in the morning and you had to turn around and play at 4. So from that standpoint, I think it’s idiotic.”
–Field Level Media