Season finale at No. 13 Butler presents Seton Hall with chance to punch NCAA ticket

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It won’t be official, but Seton Hall (19-10, 9-8) can essentially lock up their second consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament with a win at No. 13 Butler (23-6, 12-5) on Saturday.

Set to air on FOX, the Hall will be looking to notch their first-ever win on Butler soil in their fourth attempt; Seton Hall is 1-7 against the Bulldogs all-time with their only win coming at Madison Square Garden.

Butler has locked up the two-seed in the Big East Tournament while a Seton Hall loss slots them into the 6th-seed and a win can boost them higher. Coincidentally, the 6-seed path to the title game goes through Butler rather than Villanova.

The Bulldogs are playing as good as anyone in the country and have won five of six — including a 74-66 win at the Pavilion two weeks ago which snapped Villanova’s massive streak in that venue — since Chris Holtmann made a bold pair of personnel changes.

After losing two straight to Georgetown and Creighton at home, he has brought point guard Tyler Lewis and all-league player Kelan Martin off the bench in every game after they both started nearly every game this season to that point. 

The results? A 5-1 record, a 29:4 assist to turnover ratio for Lewis and 20 ppg & 8 rpg for Martin over his last four games.

Replacements Avery Woodson and GW transfer Kethan Savage have also maintained or increased their production during the move.

Stroke of genius?

A well-oiled machine that is Butler does not help the recent history that goes against Seton Hall.

“I’m going to be really happy to see [Andrew] Chrabascz walk out and get his jersey. I might hand him his jersey for ‘em, to be honest with you,” joked Kevin Willard of the pending match-up.

“But no, they’re a fantastic team, Chris [Holtmann] has done an unbelievable job. I think it’s [Hinkle] one of the best places to watch a college game, the fans are into the game, they’re knowledgeable about the game. It’s going to be a great atmosphere, a great opportunity.”

This is not the first time Seton Hall has traveled to Indianapolis for a late-season game with Butler either.

The Bulldogs barked the Pirates out of the building in a season-finale 71-54 back in 2014 while they nipped the Hall over the closing minutes 85-78 last year despite 27 from Isaiah Whitehead.

“We’ve had some really good battles with them, I don’t think we’ve won since ‘97, [or] since P.J. [Carlesimo] was here,” said Willard, who may have been making a figure of speech since the two schools have never met prior to realignment.

“But it’s a great opportunity against a really good basketball team.”

For Seton Hall’s NCAA aspirations, a road win at a top-25 opponent in March will surely be enough to push their resume into 8- or 9-seed territory prior to the Big East Tournament and ensure them of a bid, while a loss puts more pressure on winning one game in New York to feel safe.

“It’s a BIG opportunity. A lot of people talking about how we get this one, or if we get this win, we’ll be in for sure, blah blah blah, but for me, the season is not over, that’s for sure,” said senior Madison Jones.

“We still have a big game coming up, beating Butler at Butler, that’s only going to make our seeding and everything else much better.”

Beyond seeding, a win could relieve pressure from the team to perform at the Mecca, providing the feeling of playing with house money and nothing to lose.

“We’re still going in, Senior Night was fun and nice and all that, but the season is nowhere near over. We’re moving onto the next day, tomorrow is a new day, we have to come prepared — we want to beat Butler,” continued Jones post-Georgetown.

Jones is friends with fellow North Carolina native Tyler Lewis, who told him all about how intimidating Hinkle Fieldhouse can be; a venue Seton Hall is 0-3 at, losing by an average margin of 15 points.

“It’s big-time,” Jones said of the venue and occasion.

“I never knew we never won there, so hopefully we can change that … It was a close game [in Newark], I felt like we were right there with them. I feel like if we stick to our game and play our game, I think we definitely have a great chance to beat them.”

To have a better chance of prevailing, Seton Hall will have to look to the availability of Ish Sanogo, who miraculously played against Georgetown after a sprained ankle against DePaul left him in crutches just days before.

“I will see how he feels on Friday when we land,” said Willard.

“Sometimes with an ankle when you fly — that’s what happened coming back [from DePaul] — it can swell up. So we’ll see how he feels. If he feels — I’m sure he’ll feel better than today — if he feels better, then I’ll play him.”

Sanogo’s presence will be key for Seton Hall if they wish to replicate the strong defensive outing put on display in Newark; Butler has averaged 88.5 ppg over their last four after scoring 61 in the first meeting.

Fresh off his triple milestone night against the Hoyas, Angel Delgado will look to string together yet another all-league performance after reeling in 22 rebounds against Butler’s front line last time around. 

Delgado spoke about being a bubble team after beating Georgetown.

He and his teammates can rid that title with a win.

KenPom says: No. 20 Butler 76, No. 57 Seton Hall 65 (17%)

Series history (SH 1-7)

Jan. 25, 2017, Butler 61, SETON HALL 64, Newark, N.J.
March 2, 2016, Butler 85, SETON HALL 78, Indianapolis, IN
Feb. 10, 2016, Butler 81, SETON HALL 75, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 25, 2015, Butler 77, SETON HALL 57, Indianapolis, IN
Jan. 13, 2015, Butler 79, SETON HALL 75 (ot), Newark, N.J.
March 12, 2014, SETON HALL 51, Butler 50, New York, N.Y.
March 8, 2014, Butler 71, SETON HALL 54, Indianapolis, IN
Jan. 29, 2014, Butler 64, SETON HALL 57, Newark, N.J.

Projected Butler starters:
G – Kamar Baldwin
G – Avery Woodson
G/F – Kethan Savage
F – Andrew Chrabascz
F – Tyler Wideman

Projected Seton Hall starters:
PG – Madison Jones
G – Khadeen Carrington
F – Desi Rodriguez
F – Ish Sanogo
F – Angel Delgado

When: 230PM, Saturday
Radio: AM 570 (Gary Cohen & Dave Popkin)
Opening line: TBD

  • Andrew Herbst

    This will be a really tough test for us. Won’t be easy, but anything can happen. Will be key for us to come out and play well out of the gate. That will help silence the crowd. GO PIRATES!

  • 11yearplan

    A win is important as it leaves nothing to chance in terms of the NCAA tourney and gets Butler out of their heads for the BET.

  • SHU95

    I just looked at the RPI breakdown for SHU on ESPN… we are sitting squarely at 50, with teams like Mich St, Vandy, and Monmouth just ahead, while Marquette & providence are sitting just behind us. Things seem to be tightening up as they always do when taking a look at the Bubble. I think SHU is one win away from locking it down, but If U look at our ‘Best Wins’ a non partial committee member could easily say that SC, Creighton & Xavier had significant players out at the time when we played them. This is a tall order, but a win at Butler would remove that blemish of not beating a quality team at full strength. If they lose, which lets face it, they are a tough matchup for us, then a BET win against what will be a solid apponent is a MUST. Bottom line, they need to win one more game to get in IMO, it would be great if it comes tomorrow!! Go Pirates!!!

    • ThePirateFan

      I think you hit the nail on the head. RPI of 50 and kenpom 57 (the committee brought him in to discuss tournament selection during the season – who knows how that will affect things) do not look particularly good. If you’re the committee and you have to exclude some teams that are all similar in resume it’s going to be very easy to exclude a team whose best wins all came against injury-plagued opponents.

      They need this game. If not then they might need 2 in the BET.

      • Joe Schmoe

        Two wins takes them to the final, which would mean going through Nova or Butler regardless of how things shake out. Imagine if IW came back this year. At least 5 of those L’s would have been solid W’s. and wed be having a path to the final four/are we a 1 or a 2 seed convo…. oh well.

  • hallstorm

    Well, fitting that we need to go through Butler to cement a seeding. They are like a methodical machine and it’ll take a mistake-free effort against them. I really hope we use Angel underneath because he can dominate their inside guys and make them play help defense to tire them out. We need another lower scoring game in order to pull this one out. We can’t try to outscore them.

  • Official seeding scenarios:

    Seton Hall will be No. 4 seed with a win over Butler plus:
    Marquette win over Creighton
    St. John’s win over Providence

    Seton Hall will be No. 5 seed with a win over Butler plus:
    Providence win over St. John’s

    Seton Hall will be No. 5 seed with a loss to Butler plus:
    Creighton win over Marquette
    St. John’s win over Providence
    DePaul win over Xavier

    Seton Hall will be No. 6 seed with a loss to Butler plus:
    A Marquette, Providence OR Xavier win

    • PadrePirate

      The latter seems most likely. But sounds like the guys are going into this game with the right attitude. For some reason, we just don’t seem to match up well with Butler. They are a superior team and well coached. It will take us firing on all cylinders to calm the crowd and make this a game. Can’t afford our signature 5+ min FG droughts.

      • Joe Schmoe

        When this team was sitting at 3-6 i didnt think they were going to win 3 more games the rest of the way, let alone go 6-2. SHU is playing with something to prove. Butler is playing with their eyes on the BET and beyond. I have a feeling that this is going to be one of those tenacious we-are-not-going-to-lay-down type of games. Im going to say SHU takes this one. It wont be pretty, but they come out with a W. Butler uses the loss as fuel to win the BET next week. Heard it here first ;-D.