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TCU Horned Frogs vs. Seton Hall Pirates Prediction: NCAA Tournament First Round Preview

TCU Horned Frogs vs. Seton Hall Pirates Prediction: NCAA Tournament First Round Preview

Horned Frogs, Pirates wrap up Thursday's Big Dance card in an intriguing 9 vs. 8 pairing

The second full day of the NCAA Tournament will wind down with what is perhaps one of the toughest games to predict when Seton Hall and TCU tipoff in an 8-9 matchup in San Diego. The Pirates and Horned Frogs come into this year's Tournament with similar records and stats, which makes this particular matchup one of the best pairings in the first round.

South Region: No. 9 TCU Horned Frogs (20-12) vs. No. 8 Seton Hall Pirates (21-10)

Time: Friday, March 18 at 9:57 p.m. ET
Where: Viejas Arena (San Diego)
TV: truTV
Spread: TCU -1.0

Keys for TCU

TCU comes into the NCAA Tournament having lost three of their last four games, although two of those losses were against Kansas, the Big 12 champion and No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region, which followed a big upset win at home over the Jayhawks at the beginning of the month. TCU is battle-tested and has the look of a team that could pick up a couple of wins in San Diego under the right conditions. But if that is going to be the case, then the Horned Frogs will have to improve their offense to take advantage of a few extra possessions.

Eddie Lampkin (6.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg) will give TCU a big presence down low, although he'll be going against Ike Obiagu, who has a couple of inches on the TCU center. Mike Miles (15.0 ppg) will be the go-to scorer for the Horned Frogs.

Keys for Seton Hall

The key to a victory for Seton Hall is simple. The Pirates can play some stingy defense, and that can bring the pace of this game to a slow crawl that could see them thrive. Seton Hall had a defensive efficiency ranking of No. 26 in the nation, which will be a huge factor against a TCU program that lacks solid offensive efficiency.

Senior guard Jared Rhoden will be tasked with establishing the scoring for the Pirates as he enters this game averaging 15.9 points per contest. Alexis Yetna (7.8 rpg) will help control the boards on both ends of the court, along with the aforementioned Obiagu, who is averaging an impressive 3.3 blocks per game.

Final Analysis

Both teams have been playing some good basketball coming into the NCAA Tournament, so this is a game that could easily go down to the wire in the late hours of the second full day of action. So get your coffee ready if needed because we could have a fun finish coming our way. But Seton Hall's advantage is clearly on the defensive side of things, and that has to be counted on this time of the year. The Pirates will manage to cause some trouble for TCU and pull out a late win to move on to the second round.

Prediction: Seton Hall 68, TCU 62

— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB, on Instagram, and Like him on Facebook.