The Seton Hall Pirates (20-9, 11-8) earned a big road win over the Creighton Bluejays (20-10, 12-6) Saturday afternoon, adding to their now five-game win streak and putting themselves in position to get a first-round bye in the Big East tournament.
Both teams entered Saturday on a roll. Seton Hall had won four straight games—albeit against the weaker teams in the Big East and was tied with Marquette for fifth place in the conference. The Pirates were rising in analytic rankings, and their average seed in the NCAA Tournament was hovering around eight, per Bracket Matrix. Despite losing Bryce Aiken for the season, they had managed to play well enough to be among the top teams in the Big East, and lock up an at-large bid.
Creighton was also hot; they came off a charged home win against the third-place UConn Huskies, their 7th win of the previous 8 games. This win likely locked them into the NCAA Tournament, but there was still room for interpretation. Not to mention, the Blue Jays would clinch a three-seed in the Big East tournament with a win against Seton Hall.
Needless to say, the stakes were high in Omaha this afternoon.
Creighton didn’t miss a step after their big win against UConn; they rushed out to a 26-15 lead in the first 12 minutes. But Seton Hall answered right away; they went on a 16-6 run going into half and took a one-point lead at the break. The lead would oscillate between the two teams for much of the second half, but between the 8- and 4-minute marks, Seton Hall took control with a 10-0 run and led by six.
The Blue Jays hung around for the remainder of the game; they actually had a great shot at tying the ball-game with 0:06 to play. Alex O’Connell had a great look but put a little too much juice behind it. And that’s not to mention the Creighton turnover at 0:47 when the refs missed an obvious trip by Seton Hall, which caused Trey Alexander to throw the ball out of bounds.
In the end, the Blue Jays just couldn’t get enough shots to fall in the final minutes. They move to 12-7 in the Big East and will be the 4-seed with UConn’s win over DePaul. Creighton’s opponent in the first round will depend on the result of St. John’s-Marquette later tonight. If Marquette wins, Creighton will play them. If they lose, Creighton will get a rematch against Seton Hall. The Blue Jays should be in the NCAA tournament field no matter what, but one win in the Big East Tournament removes any shadow of a doubt.
For the Pirates, this is a great road win to boost their NCAA Tournament resume. With a strong BE Tournament performance, they have a shot of moving into the 7-seed, which is ideal because that means you don’t get a 1-seed with a first-round win.
In terms of the Big East Tournament, Seton Hall will be either a 5- or 6-seed. As with Creighton; this depends on Marquette’s performance tonight (Marquette wins, Hall is a 6; if they lose, Hall is a 5). A 5-seed would be huge for the Pirates, not only because they get the first-round bye, but they also play 1-seed Providence instead of 2-seed Villanova. No disrespect to Providence, but I would much rather be on that side of the bracket with how Nova is playing.