It is a busy night in the college basketball world with the tip-offs of the Ohio Valley, Mountain West, and Northeast Conference Tournaments. Previews of all of those can be accessed via the hyperlinks and a preview of Villanova vs. Seton Hall has already been accessed by clicking on this article.
Seton Hall is -4 in its quest to win the Big East Conference for the first time since 1993. As of now, the Pirates have already clinched a share of it, but they can take down the title outright tonight against the visiting Wildcats. The -4 number is painted across the market at books like Bookmaker with a total of 141.
This game was not mentioned in today’s situational article, but four other games were, so you can get some quick, summarized thoughts on those games if you check out that piece.
Anyway, to the task at hand, breaking down Villanova vs. Seton Hall. Some crazy happenings have been going on around the conference of late. Creighton took a dump at St. John’s and that opened the door for Seton Hall’s outright chance tonight. Villanova lost at home to a surging Providence team this past Saturday. Even though Seton Hall looks to be the conference champion, things could be quite chaotic next week at Madison Square Garden for the conference tournament.
Villanova lost 70-64 to Seton Hall at home earlier this season. The Wildcats were just 22-of-61 from the floor in that losing effort. Seton Hall wasn’t great at 21-of-60, but the Pirates were 9-of-21 from 3 while Villanova was 9-of-27. Seton Hall had 14 turnovers to Villanova’s seven, but it still wasn’t enough for Villanova to come up with the win.
That would seem to be a bad sign going into this one. Seton Hall has been the best team in this conference and a team that has faced a bit of adversity. Sandro Mamukelashvili and Myles Powell have either missed time or had some pretty big injury scares over the course of the campaign. They combined for 54 of Seton Hall’s 88 points in the win over Marquette this past Saturday. They have to be great for the Pirates to reach their potential and they have been while not injured.
There are some mild concerns with Seton Hall, though. The 1.306 points per possession was a conference high, but not a season high for the Pirates on Saturday, but the 1.173 PPP allowed was a season high. Seton Hall’s three worst defensive performances of the season have come over the last five games. They had that awful performance against Marquette over the weekend, allowed 1.142 PPP against Creighton on February 12, and then allowed 1.086 PPP in the two-point win at home against Butler.
Seton Hall still leads the Big East in eFG% against, but has fallen to fourth in adjusted defensive efficiency. On the flip side, Villanova has allowed .803, .888, and .857 points per possession in their last three games against Xavier, St. John’s and Providence. If Villanova could throw it in the ocean, they’d have beaten Providence over the weekend. The Cats were just 5-of-30 from 3, which marked their worst shooting performance in a conference game this season.
We’ve come to know Villanova as a really good offensive team, but the Wildcats have been all over the map of late. It may speak to the youth of this team. Jay Wright is relying on sophomore Saddiq Bey, freshmen Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Justin Moore, and juniors Collin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels. In terms of Minutes%, Bey is at 84.4% and so is Gillespie. Robinson-Earl is at 80.2%. Moore and Samuels are at 72.7% and 72.4%, respectively.
In conference play, Bey jumps to 87.9%. Gillespie jumps to 88.1%. Robinson-Earl is at 82.8%. Moore is at 75.3% and Samuels is at 72.1%. Villanova is more depth-shy than they have been in recent seasons. Furthermore, Robinson-Earl and Moore were in high school at this time last season. Bey played 73% of the minutes last season. Samuels played 52.8%. Gillespie was at 70.9%. These guys have all dramatically increased in workload and that is something to monitor as this season goes along.
Villanova’s bad game against Providence may be a sign of some fatigue starting to set in or it could have just been a one-off game. With the Wildcats firmly in the tournament, maybe a little maintenance is a better idea for the Big East Tournament rather than playing a bunch of games in a bunch of days.
In any event, in this game, Villanova will be highly motivated to play spoiler and bounce back from Saturday’s weak effort. This is uncharted territory for Seton Hall and it will be an emotional and pressure-filled evening. It is also Senior Night for Myles Powell, Quincy McKnight, and Romaro Gill, which adds to the hardships of the evening.
Villanova is the play for me here getting four points. Seton Hall may very well win and cover and I will tip my cap if they do. I’ll take a free-and-easy Villanova team in a bounce back spot.
Pick: Villanova +4