Seton Hall's chances of winning the Big East Tournament, and with it their only shot of receiving a bid to the NCAA tournament, are a miniscule four-tenths of a percent and likely due to a matchup with Villanova in the second round.
That reality should come as little surprise to the scores of faithful Hall fans that have all but packed it in for the season, some of whom are rooting against the team to score an NIT bid, which is fairly likely with a win over Marquette tomorrow night.
The Golden Eagles (12-18, 4-14) are on pace to finish the season with their lowest win total since a Kevin O'Neill-led team went 11-18 in 1990-91 and have lost 12 of 14 games in what is the ground floor of a rebuilding effort for head coach Steve Wojciechowski.
On the bright side, star shooting guard Matt Carlino (14.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.3 apg) is now entering his fifth game back from missing four straight due to a concussion that he suffered just prior to the second meeting with Seton Hall. Forming a one-two punch of late, center Luke Fischer (11 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.2 bpg) is averaging 14 ppg, 4.8 rpg and 2.6 bpg over his last five and is Marquette's second scorer to watch.
For Seton Hall (16-14, 6-12), a young team will look to recreate the magic seen in their run to the Big East semifinals a year ago that included an upset of Villanova. Only senior forward Brandon Mobley (10 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and leading scorer Sterling Gibbs (16.7 ppg, 3.8 apg) will be able to call upon the experience as more than half of Seton Hall's team was watching from the bench or at home.
One freshman that looks poised to propel any potential run is unanimous All-Rookie Team selection Angel Delgado (9.3 ppg, 9.9 rpg), who is a favorite to take home the Big East Rookie of the Year award when announced tomorrow at 4:30. Delgado is averaging a double-double (10 ppg, 11.6 rpg) over his last seven games and has recorded 10 double-doubles this season. His battle in the paint with Luke Fischer will help decide the outcome.
Three things to watch:
Seton Hall against Marquette's zone. The Pirates have struggled at times against zone this season as recently seen against Providence to start the second half and Georgetown when they switched back to it late in the game. Marquette would prefer to play man, but their limited personnel, especially in the frontcourt, has forced them to zone at times and Seton Hall took advantage in their 80-70 win at the Bradley Center in January; it was as if the zone forced them to spread the court and share the rock, the opposite of what it does now.
If Seton Hall can increase the tempo, they have a good chance tomorrow. Even though senior guard Matt Carlino is back in the fold for Marquette, the Golden Eagles have struggled to put up points of late, averaging just 56.7 ppg over their last four. They have finished below 1 point per possession in all four games including a measly .77 rate against St. John's. Carlino and center Luke Fischer have been their two go-to scorers with no one else really stepping up. They need tertiary scoring from freshman Duane Wilson or else a final score similar to what we saw in the first meeting looks likely to do the Golden Eagles in.
A more efficient Isaiah Whitehead. Seton Hall's All-Rookie Team freshman is 40 of 120 (33%) from the field since returning from his six-week absence due to injury and has displayed some inconsistent shot selection over those 10 games in which he's averaged 12.2 ppg and has totalled 36 asts and 36 turnovers. There's no question Whitehead has displayed the ability to create for teammates and hit shots that many other D-I players can't, but the onus is on him to limit turnovers and tough shots to become more efficient.
Last 10 meetings (Marquette 8-2):
Feb. 7, 2015, Marquette 57, SETON HALL 54, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 28, 2015, SETON HALL 80, Marquette 70, Milwaukee, Wis.
Feb. 11, 2014, Marquette 77, SETON HALL 66, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 11th, 2014, Marquette 67, SETON HALL 66, Milwaukee, Wis.
Feb. 19th, 2013, Marquette, 67, SETON HALL 46, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 16th, 2013, Marquette 69, SETON HALL 62, Milwaukee, Wis.
Jan. 31st, 2012, Marquette 66, SETON HALL 59, Milwaukee, Wis.
March 5, 2011, SETON HALL 85, Marquette 72, Newark, N.J.
Feb. 19, 2011, Marquette 73, SETON HALL 64, Milwaukee, Wis.
Feb. 28, 2010, Marquette 84, SETON HALL 83 (ot), Newark, N.J.
KenPom says: No. 82 Seton Hall 67, No. 122 Marquette 64 (60%)
Projected Marquette starters:
PG - Derrick Wilson
G - Duane Wilson
G - Matt Carlino
F - Juan Anderson
C - Luke Fischer
When: Wednesday, 7pm
TV: Fox Sports 1
Radio: 970 AM
Opening line: Seton Hall -1