Tonight is a critical night for Seton Hall and Rutgers. After a promising start in non-conference, both teams have stumbled out of the block in conference play. This could be the night that both teams make a breakthrough in the Big East.

Rutgers (9-4, 0-1 Big East) at West Virginia (11-2, 2-0) 

7:00 p.m.

ESPN 360

Rutgers vs. West Virginia is the first game of a double dip on ESPN 360. This a huge game for Rutgers. After a decent start to the season with a win over UMASS and a strong showing against North Carolina, the Scarlet Knights came up short against Cincinnati in their Big East opener. It was a tight game for the most part as Rutgers led 30-25 at the half. Cincy took control in the second and ran away with a 65-58 win.

Rutgers has a lot going for it this season. Former St. Anthony's Jersey City product Mike Rosario is having a fine season. More importantly, Rutgers has a legitimate center in Hamady Ndiaye, who is a shot-blocking machine. He's teamed with beefy power forward Gregory Echenique, who leads the team in rebounding. A win or even a close loss at West Virginia would show the rest of the Big East the Scarlet Knights won't be a doormat. A blowout loss? Same 'ol Rutgers. 

Seton Hall (9-4, 0-2) at Connecticut (10-3, 1-1)

9:00 p.m.

ESPN 360 

This could be one of those make-or-break type games for Seton Hall. Yes, it's early, but the Pirates are already 0-2 in the Big East with their next four games against, Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville and Pittsburgh. So a win against the Huskies is critical. Do the Pirates have a chance? Of course. Jeremy Hazell gives them a chance. Hazell is a deadly three-point shooter who's already had three 30-point plus games and a 41-point outburst. He isn't the only one. Jamel Jackson, who had a 40-point night against VMI, and Jordan Theodore can also light it up. The Pirate backcourt is complimented by a frontcourt with double-double man Herb Pope (13 pts, 11.7 reb, 2.2 blks) and 6-9, 270-pound bruiser John Garcia.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Seton Hall will need to find the range early against UConn, which has shown it isn't the same squad that went to the Final Four last year. A loss would put Seton Hall in an 0-3 conference hole. Losing wouldn't be the end of the world, but it could deliver a real mental knockout blow.