The Seton Hall men’s basketball team still has plenty to play for with three regular season games left and at least one Big East Tournament contest.
Once a team that was looking at NCAA Tournament possibilities in January, the Pirates (15-12, 5-10) have become a projected NIT team.
While the ultimate postseason goal of the “Big Dance” is out of reach for The Hall barring a conference tournament title, a postseason berth could mean immeasurable things for one of the youngest teams in the country.
Just to get postseason experience for a team that not many expected to make the NCAA Tournament could serve as a building block for the Pirates heading into what will be a very crucial year in 2015-16.
The good news is that the potential is there for a run. The Hall has pulled it off before. It seems like 10 years ago, but this team did pull off two straight top-15 wins over St. John’s and Villanova to start Big East play.
Saturday presents the opportunity for a late-season surge to begin for Seton Hall.
It could very well be a preview of the 8-9 seed match-up in the Big East Tournament when the Pirates battle Creighton at the Prudential Center.
Creighton (13-15, 4-11) is coming off a 75-62 victory at DePaul behind 18 points from James Milliken, who scored 20 in the first meeting with SHU on Jan. 10, when the Pirates pulled out a 68-67 victory over the Bluejays after junior guard Sterling Gibbs hit a game-winning three.
For seeding purposes in the back-half of the Big East, this is a huge game.
If the Pirates still want to avoid a potential Big East Tournament quarterfinal contest with Villanova, which has at least clinched a share of the regular season league title, getting the seven-seed requires that SHU wins at least two of its last three games in the regular season.
DePaul owns the tiebreaker after sweeping the Pirates and is a game ahead of SHU with six league wins.
Isaiah Whitehead will be looking to get back on track after an 8-for-24, 19-point performance in last Saturday’s loss at St. John’s. The freshman went 2-for-12 from three-point land as well. While he has been going through growing pains, SHU will need Whitehead to break out of his slide if the Pirates want to return to their winning ways going forward.
One of the other things to watch going forward for The Hall is if the Pirates’ Angel Delgado can keep his push at being the Big East Rookie of the Year going. The freshman leads the league with 9.9 boards per game and is among the best rookies in the country.
To get to the NIT, 15 wins will not be enough. Most of the players on the team are facing their first postseason opportunity.
The Pirates are currently playing for seeding in the Big East Tournament, which is crucial for next month’s tournament.
The fight for the finish starts on Saturday at home, and a matchup with Creighton offers a good enough start as any to get rolling again.
John Fanta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.