Head Coach: First-year coach Kevin Willard took over a talented roster but a tumultuous situation, replacing Bobby Gonzalez. Willard turned around the Iona program in his three years there, but his ability on the Big East level is still in question.
Team MVP: Senior guard Jeremy Hazell is Seton Hall’s best player, but at times he can be their most frustrating. Seton Hall can beat anyone if Hazell goes off, but you never know exactly when or if he will. But the fact of the matter is that the Hall’s season effectively ended when Hazell went down with a broken wrist in November. This year, he passed Colin Falls on the conference’s all-time three pointers list.
Playing For: Pride? Playing time for next year? Draft status? It depends on the player, but the Pirates aren’t playing for any postseason berth. They’ll have to win the whole thing to have any games scheduled past Saturday’s Big East Final.
Breakdown: The Pirates are coming into the Big East Tournament playing their best basketball of the year. They have veterans with experience, so the bright lights of Madison Square Garden shouldn’t provide too many nerves for the Hall's most important players, Hazell, junior guard Jordan Theodore and junior forward Herb Pope. Seton Hall knocked off St. John’s Red Storm and Marquette Golden Eagles in its last two Big East games to finish 7-11 in conference play, a pretty solid record all things considered.
Is it crazy to the think the Pirates can win a few games here and make some noise? It’s possible. If they can beat Rutgers Scarlet Knights, SHU has St. John’s next and we know that the Hall is capable of beating the Johnnies (although it will be tougher at the Garden than it was at home just last week). At the same time, the Pirates can definitely be knocked off by Rutgers, which owns a win over the Pirates this year. It’s pretty cool that the tournament bracket shaped up with a mini Metro-area tournament between Rutgers, Seton Hall, and St. John’s.
-- written by Chris Celletti.