Photo by Vinnie Lucia

Seton Hall host Villanova on senior night at The Rock

Tuesday night at the Prudential Center will be the final Seton Hall home basketball game of the 2022-2023 season. There is a lot at stake as conference rival Villanova comes to town. Both teams are sitting at 9-9 in league play, with the tiebreaker going to the Wildcats, who defeated the Pirates in Philadelphia earlier this season. Seton Hall can defend home court one final time and reclaim sixth place in the Big East Conference.

The best thing for the Pirates, who are coming off of an ugly 82-60 loss at home against Xavier, is to get back on the court. The Pirates' NCAA tournament hopes as an at-large bid are slim, but Seton Hall still has much to play for. Head Coach Shaheen Holloway needs one more regular season win to ensure the Pirates go at least five hundred or better in league play in his first season as head coach of the Pirates. The opportunity to host a first-round NIT game and gain more experience for a group that should return most of its players next season is also on the table.

The Pirates have only two players on their active roster who will no longer have eligibility remaining after this season. Those two players are KC Ndefo and Jamir Harris. Ndefo and Harris, along with Tyrese Samuel, will be honored on senior night before the game. Samuel has eligibility remaining and can return to the Pirates next season.

In the ugly loss Friday evening to Xavier, Seton Hall got an unexpected spark from freshman Jaquan Sanders. Sanders, who has been out of the rotation, made every second of his twenty minutes count, scoring eleven points with two three-point field goals. With the Pirates' NCAA tournament hopes gone, I expect Shaheen Holloway to give some of his younger players more minutes.

When Villanova defeated the Pirates on the road 58-54, they were without sixth man Dre Davis. Davis returned to the lineup Friday night against Xavier and provided a spark off the bench with thirteen points and five rebounds. Just as the Pirates gain back a valuable rotation player, they lose arguably their best player Kadary Richmond. The starting point guard could not play against Xavier due to a back injury in the Connecticut game. Injuries have hurt the Pirates during the final stretch run of the season, and the Pirates will need other players to step up, as the status of Richmond remains doubtful.

Offensively the Pirates will need to replace Richmond's ten points, five rebounds and four assists per game. For scoring, Seton Hall will rely heavily on Al-Amir Dawes, who is shooting nearly forty percent from three-point range and averaging over twelve points a game. With senior Jamir Harris struggling and Richmond likely out, freshman Jaquan Sanders will be able to provide a spark offensively for Seton Hall. Sanders and Dre Davis combined for twenty-four points off the bench, with three made three-point field goals Friday evening. The Pirates will need all hands on deck offensively to stay in the game with the Wildcats.

In the first meeting, the Pirates completely shut down Villanova star guard Justin Moore, holding him to one point. However, Eric Dixon and Caleb Daniels killed Seton Hall. Dixon was a force in the point, pouring in a team-high nineteen points. Daniels torched the Pirates from behind the arc, with eighteen points on four made three-point field goals. A healthy Villanova squad with multiple scoring options will be a handful for the Pirates Tuesday night.

The Pirates will close their regular season before a sell-out crowd at the Prudential Center. A home-court advantage is pivotal if the likely undermanned Pirate squad can defeat their Big East rival on senior night. Senior night for the Pirates against Villanova has been unkind as the Pirates will look to avenge the emotional Myles Powell 2020 senior night loss to the Wildcats. Can the Pirates send their seniors out on top with a win against rival Villanova? We will find out Tuesday night.

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