After appearing in the early NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament seedings, the Seton Hall Pirates earned a historic win at Wells Fargo Center.
All the 🎥 you need from the Pirates' seventh road win of the season!
— Seton Hall Basketball (@SetonHallMBB) February 9, 2020
Ranked as one of the nation’s 16 best men’s basketball teams by the highest powers that be, the Seton Hall Pirates proved why they belonged and then some on Saturday afternoon.
The tournament’s selection committee ranked the Pirates as one of their top 16 seeds for the next edition on Saturday. That honor came just before Seton Hall, ranked 12th in the AP Poll, topped No. 10 Villanova 70-64 in Philadelphia. The crucial victory is the Pirates’ first on the road against the Wildcats since February 1994.
The selection committee unveiled the top four seeds in each regional portion of the 68-team bracket. Seton Hall (18-5, 10-1 Big East) is the third seed in the South Region. AP poll leaders from Baylor top the South, followed by Louisville and rounded out by Auburn. Kansas (Midwest), Gonzaga (West), and San Diego State (East) are the leaders in the other regions.
Seton Hall has had a strong run of success in recent years. They have reached the tournament in program-record-tying four consecutive seasons and won Madison Square Garden’s Big East Tournament in 2016. Saturday’s win, however, might be their strongest step forward.
The Pirates saw their quest of conference perfection end last Saturday at Prudential Center against Xavier. A win over their closest competition and a conference dynasty has widened their lead in the Big East standings to three games over Villanova and Creighton.
Seton Hall hinted at history from the opening tip. A three-pointer from Powell gave them a 20-10 lead at the midway mark of the first half. Thus, a late surge that gave Villanova (17-6, 7-4) the halftime lead served only as an inconvenience. The Pirates quickly got the lead back after a trio of triples from Powell, Jared Rhoden, and Sandro Mamukelashvili. Villanova only tied from then on out, and the Pirates stole the lead for good on a Powell jumper just before the ten-minute mark.
Villanova’s home crowd at Wells Fargo Center smelled blood at several points, especially when Powell had to leave the game with four fouls. Mamukelashvili took things over, deflating the Wildcats’ will with a dominant effort. The junior from the nation of Georgia scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half in an effort complemented by eight rebounds and two blocks. One rejection came on an attempted dunk and lead-changer by Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. Once the ball got to the other end Mamukelashvili would go on to score on a crucial putback to put Seton Hall up 48-45.
Powell nonetheless led Seton Hall with 19 points, while Quincy McKnight added 14 more (6-for-6 free throws). The former became Seton Hall’s all-time leader in successful three-pointers, passing Jeremy Hazell. Saddiq Bey paced Villanova on the other side with 22 points.
#12 Seton Hall just won at #10 Villanova for the first time in almost 30 years. Pirates solidify themselves as the Big East favorite (10-1).
Myles Powell: 19 PTS, 3 REB, 1 AST
— CollegeBB News (@CollegeBBNCAA) February 8, 2020
Recent Big East history has seen conference supremacy determined by matchups between Seton Hall and Villanova. The Wildcats have won the MSG tournament in four of the past five seasons, the lone outlier being the aforementioned 2016 win for the Pirates. They took revenge last season, taking a narrow 74-72 win to become the first team to win three consecutive Big East tournaments. Seton Hall hasn’t swept Villanova in a multi-game set since the 1992-93 season.
The teams will meet again at Prudential Center on March 4, the Pirates’ home finale.
Seton Hall next plays in Newark on Wednesday night against No. 21 Creighton (6:30 p.m. ET, FS1). The Bluejays topped St. John’s on Saturday in Omaha.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490