No. 10 Seton Hall is a feel-good story of the 2019-20 college basketball season no more. High expectations are the team’s reality now.
Final Four hype is being heaped upon the Pirates, and their next opportunity to show their potential comes Wednesday in a Big East Conference home game against No. 23 Creighton in Newark, N.J.
Seton Hall (18-5, 10-1 Big East) will enter Wednesday’s game off an acclaim-earning 70-64 victory over Villanova, which was last week’s No. 10 team in the country. The loss dropped the Wildcats five spots to No. 15 this week.
Just how different is this year’s Seton Hall team? Saturday’s victory ended a 17-game road losing streak to Villanova.
“Our confidence is through the roof right now,” Pirates team leader Myles Powell told reporters after the victory.
Powell scored 19 points in the victory and leads Seton Hall with 21.9 points per game, but the Pirates have been more of a balanced team as the season has progressed. Powell actually credited his own concussion earlier this season as a reason for the growth.
The senior missed two games after the knock to the head and now sees his teammates more willing to fill the void on a game-by-game basis. Villanova head coach Jay Wright has become a believer in Seton Hall’s championship potential.
“The experience, the basketball IQ, the answers at each position, I really think they’re one of the best teams in the country,” Wright told reporters. “That’s what makes them such a great team. It’s not just Myles Powell.”
Seton Hall has won 12 of its last 13 games overall. Its 10-1 start in conference play is the best in program history.
With three 3-pointers Saturday, Powell passed Jeremy Hazell to become the Pirates’ all-time leader in 3-point baskets with 330. He is also 24 points shy of passing Hazell on the program’s all-time scoring list.
Despite a 73-56 loss last week to Providence last Wednesday, No. 23 Creighton stayed in the national rankings for the second consecutive week. It is the third week they have been ranked this season.
The Bluejays (18-6, 7-4) recovered from the road loss at Providence with a 94-82 home victory over St. John’s on Saturday. Marcus Zegarowski had 23 points and Denzel Mahoney came off the bench to score 18.
Creighton improved to 17-1 on the season when scoring 70 or more points while Greg McDermott picked up his 225th win as Bluejays head coach.
Creighton doesn’t figure to be intimidated facing a top team on the road Wednesday. The last time the Blue Jays traveled to face a top-10 team, they earned a resounding 76-61 victory at Villanova on Feb. 1. The Wildcats were ranked No. 8 at the time.
Creighton had 21 assists and just eight turnovers against a tough Red Storm defense. St. John’s enters this week fifth in the nation with 10.0 steals per game.
“When we share the basketball and get out in transition, good things happen,” McDermott said. “Our guys were really, really unselfish (Saturday) and we took care of the basketball. That’s a pretty good recipe for success.”
–Field Level Media