- Seton Hall leads the Big East standings by three games — but sits outside the top-10 in consensus National Championship odds
- The Pirates won at Villanova for the first time since 1994 to strengthen their resume
- Is Seton Hall offering good betting value at relatively long odds?
The Seton Hall Pirates (18-5, 10-1 Big East) are coming off one of their biggest conference wins in decades on Saturday. The Bucs beat Villanova 70-64 in Philadelphia for the first time since 1994 to take a three-game lead in the Big East standings.
But the victory hasn’t meant a big boost in National Championship odds. Kevin Willard’s team is still outside the top-10 in the average March Madness odds, and they barely crack the top-ten.
2020 NCAA Tournament Title Odds
|Team||National Championship Odds|
|San Diego State||+1200|
Odds taken Feb. 11
While the Pirates barely crack the top-10 above at +2200, they’re No. 11 at +2500 on the 2020 March Madness odds tracker — which takes odds from multiple sportsbooks and calculates their average odds. KenPom and Torvik, a pair of websites that help crunch efficiency ratings in college basketball, each have Seton Hall also outside the top-10 (at No. 11 and No. 19 respectively).
But those sites don’t take into account injuries, which is something the Big East leaders have battled this season. Does Willard’s club deserve shorter March Madness odds? Or are the Bucs right where they should be? We break down the Pirates’ respective cases.
Is Seton Hall the Rodney Dangerfield of college basketball? When you look at their odds to win this year’s NCAA Tournament, it certainly seems so. Let’s start with the Big East. The Pirates are 10-1 in the third-best conference in the game according to KenPom (ahead of the Pac-12, ACC and SEC) and lead the Big East standings by a whopping three games! Last Saturday’s win over the wildcats was rather large.
That six-point victory against ‘Nova was the program’s first in The City of Brotherly Love in 26 years. And it came with conference player of the year candidate Myles Powell missing critical second-half minutes on the bench in foul trouble. Wildcats coach Jay Wright said it best after the game. “They just played better than us; we didn’t play poorly,” said the two-time NCAA Tournament champion head coach. “We have to play better to beat one of the best teams in the country.” And that’s exactly what Seton Hall is: one of the best teams in the land.
Prior to tip-off Saturday, the Pirates were projected as a No. 3 seed by the NCAA Tournament selection committee. If the committee had reconvened after the outcome, Seton Hall could very easily have been a No. 2 seed — which means they theoretically should be a top-8 betting favorite.
Willard’s team has also dealt with injuries this season. 6-foot-11 forward Sandro Mamukelashvili missed ten games with a broken right wrist (his non-shooting hand) between early December and late January, while Powell also missed a couple games in December with a concussion. Why is this important? The efficiency websites don’t factor time missed by key players.
So when NBA prospects like Mamukelashvili and Powell are out (or miss valuable minutes in Powell’s case) in a 68-48 loss to Rutgers (the team’s worst defeat of the season), the team gets dinged. Clearly, the Pirates deserve shorter odds.
On the Flip Side …
Even though the Big East is rated No. 3 by KenPom, Seton Hall is the only team in the conference ranked in the top-20 on the website. The ACC (Duke, Louisville and Florida State) and the WCC (Gonzaga and BYU) have more teams in the top-20 than the supposedly vaunted Big East.
And the PIrates face a challenging schedule for the remainder of the season, starting Wednesday night with a home game against formidable Creighton. The Blue Jays are rated No. 25 on KenPom — but No. 13 (six spots ahead of Seton Hall) on Torvik and beat Texas Tech earlier this season.
While fully healthy for the first time in two months, Willard’s unit also has home games against Butler and Villanova — and an away game at Creighton to close out the regular season slate — prior to the Big East tourney starting in a month. Mid-majors like San Diego State and Dayton face weaker schedules — and have justifiably shorter odds. The Pirates are right where they should be.
Should Seton Hall be better than +2500 odds to win it all? If you listen to coaches like Wright, the answer is a resounding yes. I tend to agree. I understand reserving judgement, but this team has proven it belongs to be in the conversation among teams that can make a legitimate run to the Final Four.
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