No matter how much conference realignment there is, the Big East Conference Tournament will likely always be special, and this year is no different. The highly competitive tournament will tip off this afternoon, and one of the first-round games will feature DePaul taking on Seton Hall. We’ll preview the game before going over which side I’ll be backing.
After making a name for himself as a coach last year in the NCAA Tournament, Shaheen Holloway led the Seton Hall Pirates to a 10-10 conference record this season, which resulted in them finishing in sixth place. The team possesses a lot of potential, but during conference play, their offense would completely disappear, leading to them having an offensive efficiency rating that ranks 143rd on KenPom.
The good news for the Pirates and their fans is that they will enter the tournament off one of their better all-around games of the season, beating Providence 82-58. The Pirates shot 62% from the field and 56% from three while their defense continued to give opponents fits. Seton Hall has been led by defense all year and will enter the tournament ranked 21st in defensive efficiency on KenPom.
Seton Hall and DePaul played against each other twice during the regular season, and both times the Pirates were able to walk away with the win. The Pirates relied on their defense to secure both victories, holding the Blue Demons to under 67 points in both contests.
Unfortunately for DePaul, being limited on the offensive end was a common occurrence this season, as they went 3-17 in conference play and ranked 145th in the country on offensive efficiency on KenPom. Four Blue Demons averaged in double figures this season; however, as a team, they still rank 294th in the country in shooting percentage.
With their offensive rating only two spots behind Seton Hall, it may seem surprising that they finished the season on a 12-game losing streak, but the difference is that the Blue Demons were 176th in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. Across their losing streak, nine of their opponents scored 80 or more points in the game, while on the season, opponents shot an average of 45.3%.
Seton Hall is currently listed as -6 point favorites, and I’ll be taking them for my play in this one. The Pirates were 7-6 ATS when favored this season, while DePaul went 2-8 ATS over their last ten games. Winning the last regular season game before heading into the tournament is always a solid advantage and provides some helpful momentum, and the Pirates have that advantage, while DePaul has not won a game since January 18th.
Arguably the Blue Demons' biggest strength on offense is their three-point shooting, as they are 71st in three-point percentage this season, but the Pirates have continually shown they can defend the three at a high level. Opponents are shooting just 30.4% from three and averaging 6.3 made threes per game against Seton Hall this season. The Pirates also force 14.4 turnovers per game, which can cause issues for this DePaul team.
Seton Hall’s shooting numbers for the season don’t stack up well nationally, but they were able to find a lot of success in their most recent game and now take on a DePaul team that ranks 336th in average points allowed per game and 317th in opponent field goals made per game. I think the Pirates can cruise into the second round with advantages on both ends of the floor.
Seton Hall (-6)