The Seton Hall Pirates will not be going dancing. Despite being in the hunt for one of the remaining at-large bids, the NCAA Tournament committee ruled that Seton Hall did not do enough to continue playing meaningful basketball when the Big Dance kicks off next Tuesday.
It was believed Seton Hall needed to win at least two games in the Big East Tournament to secure a bid after devastating losses to Rutgers and DePaul in the final week of play. After making easy work of an improved Providence team, Seton Hall was beaten in the second round by Louisville, the eventual conference tournament champion.
Despite finding themselves part of an extremely soft bubble that saw most teams imploding, collapsing and teetering around them, the Pirates were not considered one of this year's top 37 at-large programs in the country. Failing to make the Tournament after notching 20 victories makes the Pirates just the 6th Big East program (of the last 153) to be left out after recording 20 wins.
Seton Hall was selected by the Big East coaches and media to finish 13th in the conference, but overachieved for much of the season led by the play of their seniors Jordan Theodore and Herb Pope. After cruising through their non-conference slate, the Pirates brought their 11-1 record to the Carrier Dome where the Orange polished the hardwood with blue and white jerseys. Seton Hall responded by winning 4 straight (including #8 UConn) en route to their first AP Top 25 ranking in nearly 11 years.
The roller coaster was then boarded as they proceeded to drop 6 straight, followed by winning 3 in a row, before see-sawing their way to just 2 wins in their last 6 (including 2 BET contests) and 5 of their last 15. Many analysts around the country felt that the late season swoon kept Seton Hall from being considered as one of the top 37 at-large teams in the nation. We'll soon understand whether the committee felt the same way and how much impact the A10 championship actually had on the Pirates' fate.
I think I speak for all of us at SOJ in saying that although we're all extremely disappointed, we're still very proud of what the Pirates accomplished this season in just Kevin Willard's second year at the helm. Willard brought this program an incredible way in just two years at Seton Hall, to even be in the, "bubble" discussion everyday of the last week. Despite failing at the ultimate goal of making the NCAA Tournament, Seton Hall University has been in the national spotlight and discussion for much of the last three weeks, certainly a better position than where we found our name two years ago. We'll have plenty more on that subject this offseason. For now, this team will need to collect themselves and prepare to host an NIT home game. There's still valuable basketball left to play in a tournament setting that will allow our young guys to gain valuable experience if they put their hearts and minds into competing, something we clearly did not do in 2010.
The NIT Selection Show will be televised at 9PM on ESPNU.
Brighter days await. Always a Pirate.