As the regular season winds down and conference tournaments are set to begin or have begun, the eyes of the college basketball world begin to look at bracketology experts around the country. Bubbles, last four in, last four out and snubs are the vernacular for fans of schools who are vying for a NCAA Tournament berth. One of those schools are the Seton Hall Pirates.
Seton Hall has been in and out of the NCAA Tournament many times over the last month and a half. Just a few weeks ago it was debatable whether the Pirates would make the tournament as they were struggling in Big East play with a losing record. However over the last three weeks, Seton Hall has earned major wins over Xavier and Creighton, teams with high RPI’s. At press time Seton Hall is 19-10 and 9-8 in Big East conference play with one game remaining against No. 13 Butler on the road with the Big East tournament starting after that.
With their string of wins, especially against teams they should beat, is Seton Hall a lock to make the NCAA Tournament?
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has Seton Hall as a 10-seed in the Midwest region while CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm has the Pirates sitting as a nine seed, also in the Midwest. With those projections, it should be a no-brainer that Seton Hall is a tournament team, even if they were to lose to Butler in the regular-season finale on Saturday.
As with any NCAA Tournament year however, weird things can occur. Upsets in conference tournaments, underdogs making runs and unlikely teams winning their conference tournaments are the norms in early March. The eye test may be the one thing that the selection committee will use for many teams and for Seton Hall, that could be a good thing. Let’s take a look at some of The Hall’s data points.
Conference Record: 9-8
Strength of Schedule: 57
Opponent Strength of Schedule: 28
Non-Conference Record: 10-2
Non-Conference Strength of Schedule: 184
Non-Conference RPI: 31
Vs. RPI Sub 150: 9-0
The data at the top makes the Pirates look like a shoo-in for the NCAA Tournament. However there are problems when looking at their other numbers.
Vs. RPI Top 25: 1-5
Vs. RPI Top 50: 3-6
For other bubble teams like Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech and Rhode Island, a case can be made for them more than Seton Hall due to Seton Hall’s record against the Top 100 of the RPI. However playing in arguably the best basketball conference in America may have pushed Seton Hall over the top to a NCAA Tournament berth. The Big East has a 8-3 record against the ACC, a 7-2 record against the Pac-12 and a 6-1 record again that the SEC. Those are three of the best conferences in the country and the Big East blows them away.
So is Seton Hall a a lock for the NCAA Tournament? At this moment they are and they have the inside play of Angel Delgado, the leadership of Khadeen Carrington and the emergence of Desi Rodriguez to thank for the big wins for the Pirates during this stretch run. Weird things do happen on Selection Sunday but the Seton Hall Pirates will make the NCAA Tournament and hopefully make a long run to their first Final Four since 1989.