Seton Hall has plenty of opportunities over final six games

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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.

  1. (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.
  2. (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.
  3. (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.
  4. (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.
  5. (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

  • Joe Schmoe

    Im surprised there is still tournament talk going on… Its time to accept that it is highly unlikely at this point. Chris I think your analysis is missing one key factor here, regardless of the outcomes of the next six games, it is key that the Hall finish no worse than a sixth seed in the BET. If they finish 8-10 but are a 7th seed and are playing in the consolation round all is lost. The next week is extremely important. they need to go 3-0.

    • Not sure I agree about 3-0. If above is remotely accurate, 4-2 finish with losses to Nova/Butler = 40 or better RPI and 2 additional top-30~ wins heading into BET. Fact two more top-30 wins into a team already on the bubble.

      I agree that the 8-10 will likely mean OUT in many cases, but not universally true as outlined in scenario #5. It’s a long shot and probably pointless to speculate about though, so I do agree that a 3-3 finish means 8-10 means likely OUT unless they reach the BET final or something wild.

      • hallstorm

        I wouldn’t bother Chris–that scenario #5 was exactly as I propositioned to Joe Schmoe a week ago and he was still contending we needed to be .500 in conference or needed to run the table. I explained it isn’t necessary (bigger wins against ranked opponents trumps poor losses almost all the time in the selection process historically). And I also agreed that if we went 4-3 (with a loss to St. John’s because I did not have a good feeling about that game) would still put us on the fringe with a first-round Big East tourney win needed to seal an NCAA birth.

        I realize this part is a little too early to consider, but what is the tiebreak if teams like Marquette, St. John’s, Providence end up with the same in-conference record as us? i.e. what is the process that would allow which team the higher seeding?

        • Joe J

          Head to head is first and after that I believe they look at the records vs the top team (nova). Marquette beat nova so right now they’d have the tie- breaker. If the Hall beat nova they’d go to the 2nd place team. I believe this is how the tie-breaker works

          • hallstorm

            Ok interesting. I highlighted those teams above because we’ve split the season with them. I was assuming out-of-conference record, but your theory would hold more water.

          • Last time I checked, this is correct. H2H then you work your way down the standings. For multi-team tiebreakers, it still may be the same. Will rehash this if necessary going forward.

        • In general, sure, 8-10 likely always means out. But what if 6 of those 8 wins against top 3 or 4 teams in conference and are all top-30 wins? Again, it’s unlikely a team would ever have such difference in results (great wins, bad losses) but it’s not impossible as seen by various resumes over past 10 years. Alabama (a few years back) comes to mind.

  • iratepirate

    Anyone watching this team can see the inconsistency. The coach and team haven’t been able to fix the turnovers, the FT shooting, the very poor offensive gameplan. Can this team beat Creighton? On a good night when everything goes right, probably. Unfortunately, that won’t hold for 4 out of 6 upcoming games.

    Count me in the falling short category. Would love a win this Wednesday to keep hopes alive, but Chris’s second sentence in this article says it all. The “optics”, a.k.a. the eye test, tell me this team is lacking talent in key positions, and plays a very stale offensive game that can’t compete. Their defense has also fallen some from last year (#22 – #70), though it is still good within conference.

    • Of note: Creighton has a 9-man rotation even without Mo Watson, so they will be much fresher than SH and can increasing tempo, etc.

      Funny thing about the eye test is some national pundit (forget who, Seth Greenberg?) tweeted recently that they pass the eye test. Guy must not watch much SH hoops OR only the parts in games when SH is on runs to climb out of drought OR perhaps we are overly negative.

      I do think they have NCAA talent but as noted in story, everyone needs to sync up; can’t afford off games from 2 of the 4 scorers.

  • ish officially a game time decision, though I think he’s closer to playing than sitting out https://twitter.com/JonRothstein/status/831506325146320896

  • Matt

    I think the 4-2 scenario with 1 BET win is the most likely scenario and we reach the tournament if we sync on offense…..

  • Andrew Herbst

    I think 4-2 with one BET Tourney win is very possible. If we do that, I think we have our name called on Selection Sunday.

  • PadrePirate

    Thanks for the numbers work, Chris. It’s helpful. Scenarios 3 and 4 (= 3-3 finish) seem to sync best with what we’ve seen so far this year. Scenario 1 (4-2) would be a pleasant surprise and merit a tourney bid, but I just don’t see it this year. W tomorrow over Creighton will make me a believer again.

    • Glad to hear it. Hopefully they win at least 1 of the next 3; will then provide an updated outlook like the above.

      At current rate, will probably start Bracketology/bubble stuff post-Nova — assuming they win one of the two. If they don’t, might save a few keystrokes and hold off.

  • LBP

    I will be at Game on Wed.which is most important of the Year– Team is better than Creighton but we will see– if we win, I think Team has a chance at NCAAs — we need all positive thoughts

  • LBP

    A little surprised that the Hall is only a 1.5 dog for the Game– in fact a number of “experts” high on the Pirates

    • Looks like it started at +1 now early money on Jays to cover

  • Fishjam

    Its amazing we are very much still in it. There is a very weak “Bubble” this year and we did enough in the OOC to still be in striking position. There are really no mid-majors capable of stealing bids and as bad as we’ve played, most brackets have us in or first 4 out.

    But we have to get some wins and it starts with Creighton. Really hope the team comes out and plays like the season is riding on this game. If we play like we are capable and pass the ball on offense we can win this big game.

  • z06

    I hoped for the best but I don’t think they have the bodies for the final games
    We will see GoPirates

  • SHU95

    My biggest concern is the lack of depth which is why it is hard to picture us going on a deep run … hope I am wrong.

    • z06

      I agree

    • Matty P

      My biggest concern would be another league poaching UConn away later on down the line. From a basketball standpoint it would help the league since it brings in a nationally known program from a larger market in the NYC metro area. Also the idea of moving to 20 league games would probably benefit most teams since it would remove 2 weaker OOC games and replace them with UConn which should give everyone a higher RPI.

    • PadrePirate

      Didn’t they leave the BE because of football a few years back? If they came back, where would they play football?

  • PadrePirate

    Any word on Ish, Gordon?