After being announced on TBS’s Selection Sunday show as an NCAA Tournament team, Seton Hall is allotted as a No. 8 seed and will play No. 9 seed NC State in Wichita, Kan. on Thursday, March 15 at 4:30 p.m. EST.
The No. 8 selection comes as a surprise to many, as Seton Hall was listed as a No. 7 seed by all major bracketologists prior to the draw. As a No. 8 seed, the Pirates would have to face No. 1 seed Kansas in the second round.
The NC State Wolfpack holds a 21-11 record for the season, including 11-7 in conference play. Seton Hall holds the same overall record with a 10-8 conference mark but is seen by many, including the Asbury Park Press’ Jerry Carino, as a favorite over NC State.
For the record: N.C. State's Kenpom is 42. Hall's is 26. Seton Hall will be a solid 1st-round favorite. After that, though….
— Jerry Carino (@NJHoopsHaven) March 11, 2018
Coach Kevin Willard admitted in a teleconference call Sunday that he has not watched much of NC State, but did catch the Wolfpack’s game against Lousiville on March 3.
“[They are] very hard-nosed, rebound the basketball very well,” Willard said. “I thought they were a very balanced basketball team, looked like they always had three or four guys on the floor that can score.”
Willard also gave an update on the team in terms of health, saying Ismael Sanogo is practicing fully and Desi Rodriguez went through practice Sunday. He said Rodriguez will likely be “75, 80 percent” come Thursday.
“I actually like the Thursday-Saturday [matchup], one extra day is not going to cure Desi’s foot,” Willard said. “Ish is at 100 percent.”
The real test for the Pirates if they defeat NC State would be facing No. 1 KU with a strong home crowd in Wichita. This is Seton Hall’s third straight year making the NCAA Tournament and second straight season in the 8-9-seed game, last year landing as a No. 9 seed against No. 8 Arkansas.
“Last year we had an opportunity, kind of let it slip at the end,” Willard said. “I think this year’s focus..was that the next step for all of us is go out, play well, and give us our best chance to win in the NCAA Tournament.”
Elizabeth Swinton can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @eswint22.