No. 8 Seton Hall looks to clinch the outright Big East regular-season title Wednesday night when it hosts No. 14 Villanova. With two games left in the regular season, the Pirates have a two-game lead on both the Wildcats and No. 11 Creighton, which hosts Georgetown on Wednesday night. A Seton Hall loss coupled with a Bluejays win would set up a showdown on Saturday between the two teams with a share of the conference title at stake.
The Pirates come into this one on a three-game winning streak, including a victory at Marquette over the weekend. Seton Hall has won 15 of its last 18 games. Villanova is coming off an upset loss to Providence over the weekend that snapped a five-game winning streak.
Seton Hall is a 3.5-point favorite in this one, with the over/under set at 140.
Villanova has been very good this season, though a three-game stretch of consecutive losses to start February will likely end the Wildcats’ conference title dreams. The last of those three setbacks was to Seton Hall, with the Pirates outrebounding the Wildcats 43-32, including 11 offensive boards.
For Villanova to turn things around this time, Saddiq Bey needs to come up with a big game. Bey leads the Wildcats in scoring with 15.9 points — and he had 22 in the first meeting — but his offensive success helps open things up for the rest of the Wildcats.
Point guard Collin Gillespie is also a key to the Wildcats’ efforts, as he averages 15.4 points and 4.5 assists per contest. Inside, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (10.5 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.9 blocks) will need to play big against the Pirates’ strong front line.
The Pirates had a slump of their own recently, dropping two straight before righting the ship with three straight wins coming into this one. Seton Hall has been doing it with defense this season, holding opponents to a league-best 39.3 percent shooting from the field and ranking No. 1 in the Big East in blocked shots with 6.14 per game.
Offensively, Myles Powell has been the man all season long, leading the Pirates with 21.5 points per game despite numerous defenses designed to stop him. Powell is a clutch player who has taken a bulk of the big shots for Seton Hall this season.
But Powell isn’t the only dangerous threat, especially of late, as forward Sandro Mamukelashvili has turned it on since returning from a fractured right wrist that kept him out for 10 games. The 6-11 junior has scored in double figures in six of nine games since returning, including a 26-point performance on 10-of-13 shooting in the win over Marquette over the weekend.
Winning It Outright
While Villanova has been winning bigger titles than the regular-season conference crown in recent years, Seton Hall would like nothing more than to win the Big East title outright with a win in this one. The Pirates are rolling right now and want to send a message to the rest of the league with a win over the Wildcats. I think they get it done, so I’m taking Seton Hall -3.5 in this one.