Seton Hall turned the wheel of their Pirate ship in the right direction in a hard fought game at Providence on Saturday afternoon, but ultimately came away disappointed following a 69-62 loss that was their fourth in a row, further damaging their NCAA tournament chances.
The Pirates have now dropped seven of their last nine games and have slipped from a projected 5-seed to well out of the field of 68, requiring a big-time turnaround to be considered on Selection Sunday. Prior to Saturday's loss to the Friars, Seton Hall was being considered along with 20+ other schools for 10 at-large spots during a media-attended mock selection event, but fell well short of a bid. According to RPIForecast.com, the Hall has to win four of their remaining five games (4.31% probability) to have a top-50 RPI going into the Big East Tournament.
Clearly, the odds are against the Hall dancing this March and a deep run at Madison Square Garden will be required in addition to at least a 3-2 regular season finish. The Pirates haven't been able to win 3 out of 5 games since their opening stretch to the Big East over a month ago.
Seton Hall can increase their chances of post-season play going forward by notching their second shocking win over Villanova this season at the Pavilion on Monday night. The Hall is looking to win their third straight over the Big East's best team and are up against 16.5-point odds.
The Wildcats (23-2, 10-2) have lost just one game, a thumping on the road to Georgetown, since the two schools met in Newark during the first week of January. An indicator of how impressive Jay Wright's team has been, Villanova has won 8 of their last 11 games by 10 or more points.
Villanova bounced back nicely from their 20-point loss to the Hoyas by beating them by 16 at home in the return trip. With revenge surely on the minds of Jay Wright's guys, Seton Hall will not escape the best shot from their hosts tomorrow night at a venue they haven't won at since February of 1994.
Senior guard and leading scorer Darrun Hilliard (14.1 ppg, 2.1 apg, 1.8 spg) has reached double figures in six straight games including an outstanding 31 (8-13 3pt) against Butler on Saturday while heady point guard Ryan Arcidiacono (10 ppg, 3.7 apg) has been a little inconsistent of late but is still averaging 13 ppg over his last seven. With JayVaughn Pinkston (9.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and Daniel Ochefu (9.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg) not putting up the pure scoring totals one may expect, sixth man Josh Hart (9.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg) has done well off the bench and is averaging 10 ppg over his last five games.
Three things to watch
Daniel Ochefu on the offensive glass. Seton Hall was hampered by Providence eating on the offensive glass on Saturday and Ochefu reeled in 24 rebounds, eight of which were on the offensive end, in the first meeting in Newark. Unless the Hall is successful in drawing fouls on ‘the Chief' - he has picked up four fouls in two of his last three games - I fully expect Ochefu to hurt the Pirates tomorrow night. Villanova's center has the 2nd-best defensive rebounding percentage and best offensive rebounding rate in the Big East.
Guarding the perimeter (again). Seton Hall's nation-best three-point defense held Villanova to 5-24 (20.8%) from three in the first meeting after doing the same (4-19, 21%) in the Big East Tournament last year, a big reason why they won both games. These are the two lowest percentages Villanova has shot from three in any game since the meeting at Madison Square Garden last March.
The Wildcats are the conference's best team from the perimeter (38.8% in conference play) with nearly 40 percent of their points coming from 3. Arcidiacono (35%), Ennis (34.6%), and Hilliard (38.6%) have all attempted more than 100 threes this season and Hart (32-75, 42.7%) is another threat off the pine.
Limiting turnovers. The Pirates turned it over just 11 times (15.7%) in the first meeting this season and will need to do equally as well or better on Monday night. A 29.7 percent turnover rate (19 TOs) against Providence didn't really hurt the team defensively as it has for long stretches this campaign, but it prevented Seton Hall from getting in an offensive rhythm as they nearly coughed it up on every third possession. Sterling Gibbs, Isaiah Whitehead and Stephane Manga combined for 14.
Last 10 meetings (3-7 VU):
Jan. 3, 2015, SETON HALL 66, Villanova 61 (ot), Newark, N.J.
March 13, 2014, SETON HALL 64, Villanova 63, New York, N.Y.
Feb. 7, 2014, Villanova 70, SETON HALL 53, Villanova, Pa.
Jan. 8, 2014, Villanova 83, Seton Hall 67, Newark, N.J.
Feb. 25, 2013, SETON HALL 66, Villanova 65, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 18, 2012, Villanova 84, SETON HALL 76, Villanova, Pa.
Feb. 15, 2011, Villanova 60, SETON HALL 57, Newark, N.J.
Feb. 2, 2010, Villanova 81, SETON HALL 71, Villanova, Pa.
Jan 6, 2009, Villanova 89, SETON HALL 85 (ot), Newark, N.J.
Feb. 9, 2008, Villanova 72, SETON HALL 70, Villanova, Pa.
KenPom says: No. 7 Villanova 76, No. 78 Seton Hall 61 (8%)
Projected Villanova starters
G - Ryan Arcidiacono
G - Dylan Ennis
G - Darrun Hilliard
PF - JayVaughn Pinkston
C - Daniel Ochefu
When: Monday, 7pm
TV: Fox Sports 1
Radio: 970 AM
Opening line: Villanova -16.5