The Seton Hall Pirates are running out of time to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament as they host the no. 16 Marquette Golden Eagles on Wednesday night. On the road, Marquette is listed as a 2-point favorite.
The Pirates are currently the textbook definition of a bubble team. The Hall has lost three straight games to fall to 16-12 overall and 7-9 in the Big East. If the tournament started today, they would consider themselves lucky to squeak into one of the First Four games. Their final two games before the Big East Tournament are against Marquette and Villanova, which are difficult games but will give them a chance to add another quality win to their resume.
Meanwhile, the Eagles are also reeling after back-to-back losses to Villanova and Creighton. Marquette has now lost their hold on the Big East lead, but they can still secure at least a share of the conference title if they can win their final two games. Perhaps more importantly, the Golden Eagles need to get back on the winning side of things to prevent their NCAA Tournament seeding from plummeting late in the season.
A Little Help
Marquette has one of the best players in the country in Markus Howard. But the last two games are proof that he can’t carry the Eagles all by himself. Despite scoring 33 points in a loss to Creighton over the weekend, no one else on the Marquette roster scored more than seven points. It was a similar story against Villanova when Howard scored 25 points, but only one other Golden Eagle scored in double figures. Marquette averages close to 78 points per game but have been held to 61 and 60, respectively, in their last two losses.
The key for Marquette will be brothers Sam and Joey Hauser. They are both shooting over 40% from the perimeter on the season and are the most capable Golden Eagles of being steady contributors on the offensive end. Sam had just three points on 1 of 7 shooting against Creighton. It’ll be hard for Marquette to win any game in March with a performance like that. Freshman Joey, meanwhile, has scored in double figures just once in his last eight games.
Just a Little Better
The Pirates lost to Marquette by just four points when they met earlier this season. Even after trailing by 10 at halftime, Seton Hall stormed back and actually led late in the game before Howard’s 26 points put the Golden Eagles over the top. The Pirates will surely be confident that they can do better on their home floor.
One edge the Pirates might have is their balance. They have five players who average at least nine points per game. Myles Powell leads the way with 22 points per game, but Seton Hall has plenty of other sources of offense if they need it. That’s not something Marquette can say at the moment. It will be vital for the Pirates to see some shots fall early. They aren’t a strong shooting team and have shot under 25% from 3-point range during their current losing streak.
The Perfect Storm
Marquette is slumping and Seton Hall is desperate for a big win, creating the perfect storm for an upset. It’s tempting to take the Golden Eagles with such a small spread. However, bet on Seton Hall pulling off the upset on Wednesday night.