When Seton Hall and Rutgers take the floor Thursday night at the Louis Brown Athletic Center, a history of close games will be in their favor. The last seven times the two teams have competed, the game has either gone to overtime or been won by a margin no greater than six.
The Hall have won four out of their last six games with an overall record of 16-11, 7-9 in conference play.
The Pirates are 8-10 all-time at the RAC, and have particularly struggled on the road this year. So far, they are 3-6 when playing in enemy territory.
This will be the Scarlet Knights’ (15-14, 5-11) last home game of the regular season. They will honor forward Hamady Ndiaye, their only senior, prior to tip-off. He leads the Big East and ranks third in the nation in blocks, averaging 4.6 per game.
The Hall is looking to get the season sweep for the second year in a row.
The Pirates are led in scoring by junior Jeremy Hazell, who averages 21.4 points per game, third best in the Big East.
Sophomore Mike Rosario puts up a team-high 16.4 points per game for Rutgers.
When the rivals played at Prudential Center on Feb. 23, the Pirates won 76-70 after being up by 18 points at halftime.
Rosario scored 17 for the Scarlet Knights while Hazell contributed 25 for the Pirates.
Hazell shot 9-22 from the field, including five three-pointers.
Sophomore Jordan Theodore put up 12 while junior Jeff Robinson and senior Eugene Harvey each had 10.
Big East-leading rebounder junior Herb Pope pulled down 12 boards and added six points.
Rutgers is entering this evening’s contest coming off a 71-62 win against DePaul on Feb. 27.
Rosario led the scoring with 24 points, 19 of which came in the second half. The Scarlet Knights overcame a 14-point halftime deficit.
The Pirates will also face Providence on the road on Saturday. They are 40-45 all-time against the Friars and 11-24 when playing on the road.
Providence is 12-16, 4-12 in conference. They are 8-9 overall at home.
Sophomore Jamine Peterson leads the Friars in the scoring with an average of 19.3 points per game.
Providence graduated four starters last year and lost 12 of their first 16 Big East match-ups this season. If the season were to end today, they would be in the No. 15 seed in the Big East Tournament.
The Pirates are fighting for the eighth seed in the Big East Tournament, which will take place at Madison Square Garden in New York City beginning Mar. 10.
Should the Pirates win their final two games, they could potentially be the eighth seed with a conference record of 9-9, but that depends on the teams that currently sit ahead of the Hall. As it is now, the Pirates are on an inside track to be the ninth seed and face DePaul in the early game of session one at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.
Notre Dame, who currently sits in the eighth seed, is 8-8 and has to play Connecticut and Marquette to finish their season.
If they split their final two games and finish 9-9, the Pirates will own the tie breaker and finish ahead of them due to their head-to-head record.
University of South Florida currently sits in the ninth seed. The Bulls have to play Connecticut as well to end their season. A loss to the Huskies would put the Bulls final conference record at 8-10.
If USF ends the season tied with the Pirates, they will be seeded ahead of the Hall because of their win over Seton Hall earlier this season.
Connecticut owns the tie breaker over the Pirates because of their win over the Pirates on Jan. 6. If UConn wins their remaining games, they will be the eighth seed, with wins over USF and Notre Dame.
As of press time, the Hall was the No. 10 seed and would play Providence in the first round of the tournament.
Tim LeCras can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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