Seton Hall Pirates (16-11, 7-8, NET: 64) at Georgetown Hoyas (17-11, 7-8, NET: 71)
WHERE: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
WHEN: 6:30 p.m.
TV: CBS Sports Network (Tom McCarthy and Bob Wenzel)
BETTING: Georgetown -2.5, O/U 158
ALL-TIME: 57-49 Georgetown
After a victory over the Creighton Bluejays in Omaha back on February 17, an NCAA Tournament berth for the Seton Hall Pirates practically seemed inevitable. However, back-to-back losses to the Xavier Musketeers at home and the St. John’s Red Storm at MSG have brought both doubt and anxiety back to South Orange, NJ.
In short, Saturday’s game for Seton Hall is a must-win.
Ahead of two home games to end the regular season against the Marquette Golden Eagles and Villanova Wildcats, The Hall cannot enter those games banking on at least one win. Let alone two. Seton Hall needs a victory on Saturday in the worst way.
A loss, and the Pirates would need to sweep the homestand next week to have a chance at dancing. Even one loss would mean the Pirates would have to go on a deep run in the Big East Tournament.
Let’s not look too far ahead though, as the matter at hand is the Georgetown Hoyas. The Hoyas, too, have catapulted themselves back into the NCAA Tournament conversation. Albeit at much larger odds than their opponents tonight. A win over Villanova last week helped the Hoyas achieve that status, but a loss for them on Saturday squashes any hope of dancing.
This is a battle of two desperate teams, as Seton Hall seeks a coveted Quadrant 1 win, while Georgetown just needs any wins they can get. It’s set up to be a good one that should be close down the stretch.
That wasn’t the case the last time these two teams clashed. The Pirates opened the game on a 23-9 run and eventually had a lead as large as 21 in the second half. They ultimately won by 15, and it was arguably the most complete game the Pirates have played all season.
They played a full 40 minutes in that game, something Seton Hall has struggled with as of late. Both wins against Creighton came via late game surges. The loss to Xavier was only close thanks to a 17-2 run to close the game. St. John’s blitzed the Pirates out of the gate last week en route to a 28-5 lead in the first half.
Last year when these two met in DC, Georgetown held a 17 point lead early in the second half before the Pirates stormed back to take the lead. Georgetown eventually prevailed after a late Marcus Derrickson three.
It’s simple for the Pirates. They need to play a full 40 minutes. This has been an issue for them all season long, and had they not waited so long to kick it into high gear in a few games this year, their NCAA Tournament berth would already be sealed. Instead, they are still scratching and clawing with three regular season games to go.
It won’t be easy with this Georgetown team, featuring star big man Jessie Govan and the youthful backcourt of Mac McClung and James Akinjo. This trio is hard to stop, and although the Pirates held McClung and Akinjo to just nine points last meeting, a repeat performance is unlikely.
Both teams need this one badly, but with the Pirates the more likely NCAA Tourney team, this one means more to Seton Hall. A loss for them, and their tournament chances take a seismic blow.