Seton Hall’s NCAA hopes took a shot across the bow against St. John’s this past weekend, but with at least four résumé-building opportunities left, they are far from done.
Any rational fan with their ear to the national scene knows this, but it’s the wobbling optics of the current team that is at the root of the recent wave of pessimism.
Angel Delgado (15.1 ppg, 13 rpg) is still churning out double-doubles like a finely-tuned assembly line but point guard play has been suspect while it seems like the triple-threat pistons that are Myles Powell (11 ppg), Khadeen Carrington (16.7 ppg, 2.9 apg), and Desi Rodriguez (15.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg) aren’t able to fire in sync.
Carrington hit a slight slump before really turning it on for Georgetown and Providence.
Desi lit it up for a string of games but then misfired for the two aforementioned games.
Powell, like most freshman scorers, will score in streaks and then go missing for one reason or the other.
The pieces — save an Isaiah Whitehead-caliber lead guard — are there to go on a run, but there seems to be a glue-like x-factor (see: Derrick Gordon) that must be channeled over the next six games if Seton Hall is to stay in the bubble picture; they’re clinging to life heading into Wednesday night.
This big picture reality had Kevin Willard and his guys being asked by the media post-St. John’s if they need to go 3-0 over their next three — Creighton, Villanova, and Xavier — to make the tournament.
Following some generic one-game-at-a time responses, Willard said: “You can’t think about if you have to win all three of them. You don’t know. You don’t. The goal is to win all three of them, yeah. But I mean, we’re going to start with Creighton.”
Which is true. The outcomes vary, but at bare minimum the Hall must win one or three and then try to win out to keep themselves within a shout prior to the conference tournament.
With that in mind, I ran a few scenarios through RPIForecast with the assumption that Seton Hall wins at home against Georgetown and at DePaul — those truly are must-haves.
I have ordered the W/Ls in order that the games come. RPIForecast has a final SoS of 38 because it’s not factoring in the results of other opponents, only six predetermined results for Seton Hall.
- (W, L, W, W, W, L) 19-11 (9-9) 39 RPI — This is one of the more likely scenarios that involves Seton Hall staying on the bubble, and one they should aim for, if there was ever such a thing. Losses at Butler and home to Villanova with four other wins; Xavier and Creighton are beatable at home. This indicates one win at the Garden will probably lock up a bid here if they get a first round bye.
- (W, W, W, W, W, L) 20-10 (10-8) 30 RPI — A five game streak including a huge upset of Villanova will likely not even require a win at the Big East Tournament. This seems unlikely, but nice to look at.
- (L, L, W, W, W, L) 18-12 (8-10) 51 RPI — Here is a scenario where Seton Hall struggles (or just falls short) against Creighton, Villanova, and Butler but knocks off Xavier. It also shows how winning just three games the rest of the way really changes things for the worst. This means at least two wins at the BET to be considered.
- (W, L, L, W, W, L); 18-12 (8-10) 51 — Pretty much the same as above since Xavier and Creighton are both within a few RPI spots of each other.
- (W, W, W, L, L, L); 18-12 (8-10) 50 RPI — A truly bonkers scenario where Seton Hall does go 3-0 but channels 2012 and collapses in epic fashion. This would really present an interesting case for the Selection Committee and would probably require 1 win at the Big East Tournament. It could turn out to be an intriguing resume with a poor finish, awkward record, and slumping play versus on-paper top-50 wins.
RPIForecast has its flaws (it says winning all games except for Villanova results in the same RPI as winning five in a row and then losing at Butler), but it won’t be far off all things considered.
But as Kevin Willard said, it all begins with an RPI top-25 team in Creighton, who are 2-3 against schools not named DePaul since Maurice Watson Jr. blew out his knee against Xavier a month ago.
The Jays lost by 20 at Georgetown but beat Butler by nine at Hinkle, so it’s tough to project even beyond one game.
But the projections do get a bit rosier with a win on Wednesday night.
KenPom says: No. 22 Creighton 75, No. 55 Seton Hall 73 (41%)
Series history (SH 5-4)
Dec. 28, 2016, Creighton 89, Seton Hall 75, Omaha, Nebraska
Mar. 10, 2016, Seton Hall 81, Creighton 73, New York City, N.Y.
Jan. 30, 2016, Seton Hall 75, Creighton 65, Omaha, Nebraska
Jan. 9, 2016, Creighton 82, Seton Hall 67, Newark, N.J.
Feb. 28, 2015, Seton Hall 67, Creighton 66, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 10, 2015, Seton Hall 68, Creighton 67, Omaha, Nebraska
Feb. 23, 2014, Creighton 72, Seton Hall 71, Omaha, Nebraska
Jan. 4, 2014, Creighton 79, Seton Hall 66, Newark, N.J.
March 16, 1991, Seton Hall 81, Creighton 69, Salt Lake City, Utah
Projected Creighton starters
G – Davion Mintz
G – Marcus Foster
G – Khyri Thomas
F – Cole Huff
C – Justin Patton
Projected Seton Hall starters
PG – Madison Jones
G – Khadeen Carrington
F – Desi Rodriguez
F – Ismael Sanogo
F – Angel Delgado
When: 8PM, Wednesday
TV: CBS Sports Network
Radio: AM970 (Gary Cohen & Dave Popkin) / SIRIUS 83 / XM 383
Opening line: Seton Hall +1