Selection Sunday: Seton Hall hoping to avoid eight-seed draw

At this point, you’re either completely on board and aware of the importance of Seton Hall receiving a 7-seed during tonight’s selection show, or on the fence about if it really matters.

If you’re skeptical of why many fans have been talking about it and why the team will be quietly pulling for the same when they tune into TBS at Kevin Willard’s home in Westfield this evening, I’ll spell it out.

While the consensus is that the Hall is safe from this scenario, falling to an 8-seed does not move the needle by much regarding who Seton Hall will play in the first round. In some cases, it may even be an easier draw.

But zooming out a little, the 8-seed approach significantly simplifies the different sites and second round opponents the Pirates will be faced with. But simplifying does not mean it becomes easier. 

Far from it.

With Villanova and Xavier projected as top seeds in their regions, that means Seton Hall can only be in the same pod of four schools as fellow number one-seeds Kansas (Wichita) and Virginia (Charlotte). Neither outcome is pretty, as both juggernauts will be playing in their backyards. 

Now let’s compare to the projected 7-seed setup. 

Instead of playing semi-away games at Virginia or Kansas to get to the Sweet 16, Seton Hall can be paired up with Purdue (Detroit), Duke (Nashville), North Carolina (Charlotte), or Cincinnati (Pittsburgh) in the second round, the four likely two-seeds. 

The likes of UCLA, St. Bonaventure, Florida State, USC and others are possible matchups for Seton Hall in the Thursday/Friday game.

Regardless of first round opponent, facing off with Purdue in Detroit or Cincinnati in Pittsburgh sounds a lot more appealing than the alternative, although meeting the two Tobacco Road schools in the second round isn’t a far drop off from Virginia and Kansas.

That said, after you get done rooting for Davidson to beat Rhode Island for good measure, be sure to cross your fingers at the beginning of each region unveiling by CBS, as the 8-9 game will be shown almost immediately after the top seed.

If it’s a Virginia or Kansas bracket and Seton Hall’s name doesn’t appear, feel free to fist pump.

Now let’s ditch the hoops for a second and talk 7-seed travel plans since no one wants to fly to Wichita, right?

Pittsburgh (Thursday, Saturday) may be the most appealing destination when combining opponent and location, as it’s the most driveable distance if you’re coming from Jersey and will likely contain Cincinnati as a two-seed, like ESPN currently has.

Nashville (Friday, Sunday) will be a more fun travel spot, but will likely require a flight and it seems like North Carolina or Duke will — the team that doesn’t get Charlotte as a two-seed — be shipped here. A first round win is required to extend the stay and CBS’ matchup against St. Bonaventure prior to Duke would do the trick.

Charlotte (Friday, Sunday) is the next best driving location after Pittsburgh. I drove past the city in the wee hours of the morning on the way to Greenville, South Carolina last March, lamenting what could have been if the site was in Charlotte instead. As mentioned, Carolina or Duke will be waiting, with plenty of fans.

Detroit (Friday, Sunday) seems to be the likely destination if Seton Hall gets paired with Purdue. Not known as a vacation spot over the past couple decades, Detroit will be convenient from a flight perspective, but I’m not confident on the Motor City’s hospitality yet. This comes in fourth from a travel perspective, but perhaps second from what it means opponent-wise.

Editorial Notes: Like the last two seasons, will be covering Seton Hall at the NCAA tournament, regardless of site. I have temporarily disabled the donation widget on the site, as I will be introducing a new one in the coming days. If you’re not familiar: I fund my own trip completely, but ask for voluntary donations to cover season-long expenses, web hosting, Wendell’s photography, etc. — I will make a separate post about this.

Also, there is still a feature story coming that I have promised, as well as an update from a post-Selection Show conference call with Kevin Willard and two players, ahead of any on-site reporting.