Bet Smart: Breaking down the Big East - Metro US

Bet Smart: Breaking down the Big East

Penn at Villanova
28 December 2015: Villanova Wildcats guard Josh Hart (3) looks for a way around Pennsylvania Quakers guard Jake Silpe (1) during the NCAA men's basketball game between the Penn Quakers and the Villanova Wildcats played at Pavillion in Villanova, PA. (Photo by Gavin Baker/Icon Sportswire) (Photo by Gavin Baker/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
Penn at Villanova. Getty Images

Has Seton Hall lost its legs?

You often hear former college basketball head coaches and players say that the sure signs of “fatigue” late in a game or late in a season are offenses clanking three-pointers off the rim and turning the ball over.

Tired players don’t get lift on their jump shots…passes aren’t as quick and accurate.

Heading into this week’s “save the season” challenge, Seton Hall must score home upsets vs. Marquette (FS1, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday) and Villanova (FOX, noon Saturday) to sit solidly on the right side of the bubble. And, they must do so on the heels of a three-game non-cover streak that featured these stats…

6 of 26 on treys vs. Xavier

5 of 20 on treys, 22 turnovers at St. John’s

5 of 29 on treys, 19 turnovers at Georgetown

That’s a combined 16 of 75 on three-pointers, for a woeful 21.3% (same as shooting only 32% on two-pointers). The Pirates did protect the ball vs. Xavier (only nine giveaways), but were very sloppy in those two road losses.

Maybe having its back to the wall in two big home games will provide Seton Hall with the adrenaline shot needed to spring two surprises and lock in a Dance bid. It will be very difficult to win either game if those shooting and sloppiness woes continue. Unfortunately, bettors know that the Pirates are just 3-10 against the spread at home this season.

Seton Hall and much of the Big East are positioned precariously in Dance discussions. It’s hard for outsiders to know how heavily the NCAA tournament selection committee with weigh its new “NET” ranking system. Its methodology yields similar rankings to what college basketball bettors are used to seeing from the likes of Ken Pomeroy of kenpom.com and Jeff Sagarin of USA Today.

Entering the new week: Seton Hall ranked #63 in NET, #61 with Pomeroy, and #59 with Sagarin. Using the same order for others…St. John’s ranked 61-67-58, surging Xavier 71-70-55. Creighton (50-50-44) and Butler (59-59-51) were receiving more love from the computers than from pundits, but have time to crash the brackets.

What do those rankings mean for 68-team field in the Big Dance? Usually the top 45-50 will get in, with remaining spots going to auto-bid winners from small conferences scattered across the country. If the committee respects those computer assessments, Big East bids may be limited to Marquette and Villanova.

Plenty of drama ahead this week, and then in next week’s Big East tournament. Bettors must strike a proper analytical balance amongst team skill sets, potential fatigue, and “need to win” urgency.

Other box score categories to look at when trying to spot fatigue issues: two-point defense, a tendency to commit fouls in the paint, and a slow-down in pace from prior norms. These will be important to remember later this week and next week in conference tournament formats that force winners to play back-to-back on consecutive days.

Note that St. John’s has a midweek bye, and will end its regular season Saturday on the road at Xavier (FOX, 5 p.m.).


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