The #14 Villanova Wildcats take on the #8 Seton Hall Pirates in a battle that could determine the regular-season Big East champion. Seton Hall has a two-game lead on both Villanova and Creighton (Seton Hall’s next opponent) with two games to play. Thus, Seton Hall would clinch the regular-season championship with a win in either game. Villanova would earn a share of the conference championship with wins in their final two games, plus getting help from Creighton beating Seton Hall in the regular-season finale.
- Opening Line: Seton Hall -4 (at FanDuel)
- Current Line: Seton Hall -4
- O/U: 140
- Location: Prudential Center, Newark, NJ
- Start Time: 8:30 PM ET- March 4th, 2020
- Last Meeting: February 8th, 2020- #12 Seton Hall def. #10 Villanova 70-64
The Villanova Wildcats (22-7, 11-5 conf) had a five-game winning streak snapped in their last game at the hands of Providence. Villanova fans are left to wonder if the loss can be blamed on injuries, or if they just ran into a buzzsaw. In beating the Wildcats, Providence won their fifth consecutive game over a ranked opponent. However, Villanova’s second-leading scorer Collin Gillespie suffered a deep thigh bruise earlier in the week in practice and was clearly hampered throughout the game.
Villanova is not going to beat many teams going forward if they shoot like they did against the Friars. The Wildcats shot just 35.1% from the field, including 5-30 (16.7%) from three-point range. During Villanova’s five-game winning streak, they never shot worse than 40% from the floor. They even had two games where they shot better than 47% from three.
Defensively, Villanova has been solid of late. They have held five consecutive opponents to fewer than one point per possession. In addition, they rank first in the Big East in both defensive efficiency and percentage of offensive rebounds allowed.
The Wildcats are ranked 9th in the RPI and 17th in the NET. They have 14 combined Quadrant 1 and 2 wins, which trails only Kansas, Baylor, and Seton Hall. Villanova ranks 17th in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency per KenPom.
The Seton Hall Pirates (21-7, 13-3 conf) have a perfect opportunity to claim their fourth regular-season Big East championship in school history. The Pirates ruined Marquette guard Markus Howard’s senior night with a dominating 88-79 victory. The win was their third straight after a brief two-game losing skid. At #8 in the AP poll, the Pirates have reached their highest ranking since the 2000-01 season.
Seton Hall is ranked 14th in the RPI and 12th in the NET. They have the nation’s 14th-ranked strength of schedule. The Pirates are an impressive 15-7 against Quadrant 1 and 2 teams combined. If they win out, Seton Hall has a strong case for a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, especially if any of the top teams falter.
The Pirates have been an outstanding defensive team all season. They rank 16th in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency and eighth in the country in effective field goal percentage (44.4%). It is especially difficult to score inside on Seton Hall. With 7’2” Romaro Gill protecting the rim, they rank tenth in the country in blocked shot percentage (15.3%).
- Underdog is 4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings
- Villanova is 12-14-3 against the spread this season
- Villanova is 11-18-0 against the over/under this year
- Seton Hall is 17-10-1 against the spread this season
- Seton Hall is 13-13-2 against the over/under this year
Seton Hall got the “monkey off their back” in the first meeting against Villanova. The win snapped a 17-game road losing streak against the Wildcats. The Pirates held Villanova to just 36.1% shooting from the field, and 33.3% from three-point range. Though Seton Hall committed twice as many turnovers as Villanova (14 to 7), they owned a big edge on the glass. Seton Hall outrebounded the Wildcats 43-32, including an 11-7 edge in offensive rebounds.
Villanova point guard Collin Gillespie’s health is a major concern for the Wildcats. He averages 33.9 minutes and 15.4 points per game. Gillespie is so integral to their offense, as their only other true ball handler is freshman Justin Moore. Gillespie gutted through 37 minutes against Providence but shot just 35.7% from the field. Wildcats fans hope the three days off since Saturday allowed his thigh bruise to heal.
One major difference from the Seton Hall team Villanova faced a month ago to now is the emergence of forward Sandro Mamukelashvili. The first meeting against Villanova was just his fourth game back from a wrist injury that sidelined him for ten games. Mamukelashvili has played great of late, averaging 19 points and 8.3 rebounds in the last three games.
In Big East play, Seton Hall ranks third in the conference allowing opponents to shoot just 30.5% from three. That is the perfect foil to Villanova’s three-point oriented attack. Pirates point guard Quincy McKnight is one of the best on-ball defenders in the country. Look for him to frustrate Gillespie once again, after limiting him to 12 points on 4-14 shooting in the first matchup.
Villanova will look to spread Seton Hall out defensively and take advantage of one-on-one matchups. Forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl will be guarded by Pirates big man Romaro Gill. If Robinson-Earl can pull Gill away from the basket and make him guard him on the perimeter, it should open up driving lanes for his teammates.
Emotions will be running high in the Prudential Center as Romaro Gill, Quincy McKnight, and Myles Powell, one of the best to ever wear a Seton Hall uniform will be honored before the game for Senior Night. These seniors and the rest of the Pirates will not squander a golden opportunity to claim a conference championship.
Seton Hall would love nothing better than to earn their championship by defeating the team who has been the flagship program ever since the Big East realigned. The Pirates are too big, too physical and too determined. Look for them to not only seal the conference championship but to cover the spread in the process.