Seton Hall fought to the very end against Xavier, but it wasn’t enough.
The good news for the Pirates is they’ll live to play again after losing a 70-69 game to Xavier which left everyone scratching their heads.
The bad news, however, is the reality they need to be reminded of today. The Big East tournament is less than a month away. If this loss occurred in the conference tournament… any bubble hopes of an NCAA tournament bid could have burst.
Because news flash, the Pirates are still not a lock to make the dance in March.
That should be more than enough reason to not allow a team with a sub .500 conference record to come into your backyard and leave with a victory. But that’s exactly what happen Wednesday night, at Prudential Center in Newark.
Xavier (14-13 overall, 6-8 Big East) looked every bit the team fighting for an at-large bid, not their opponents. The Musketeers took it to Seton Hall from the start, especially in the paint where the Pirates were vulnerable.
Xavier led, 68-52, with 6:23 left when they began working on their gift-wrapping skills. Seton Hall battled back with a 17-2 run, but ultimately came up short.
Naji Marshall scored a career-high 28 points for Xavier. Myles Cale led Seton Hall (16-10 overall, 7-7 Big East) with 21 points, Myles Powell added 17 points.
The loss puts Seton Hall back on the wrong side of the bubble for NCAA Tournament consideration.
They have four games remaining on the schedule and they’re brutal. This Saturday they travel to the Garden to play St. John’s, another team which apparently loves to make conditions tougher on themselves. Georgetown is next on the schedule. The Hoyas just pulled an upset win over Villanova and they’ll be looking to build momentum for the conference tournament. Seton Hall’s final two games are at home, but they just happen to also be against the Marquette and Villanova — the two best teams in the conference. Ouch.
Earlier in the season Seton Hall racked up a handful of quality wins to pad their resume. But losses like this one to Xavier won’t be ignored by the selection committee. It’s reasonable to believe the Pirates will need to win at least two of their final four games just to regain a sense of calm about their tourney hopes.
The sense of urgency should be high for this team and they’re not showing they fully understand what’s at stake. One good win, like last Saturday at Creighton, is supposed to be followed up by taking care of business at home against Xavier. That’s what tournament teams do.
If Seton Hall continues to stumble and find themselves on the outside, they can look back at this game.