Worthy Bubble Team Failing the Eye Test: Not Blue or Green, But Hazell
If the season were to end today, the Big East would be receiving eight bids to the NCAA Tournament.
With Notre Dame's victory over Connecticut this past Wednesday, ESPN's Joe Lunardi's "Last Four in" is as follows: Notre Dame, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and San Diego State.
This makes two Big East Bubble team's just making the field, but what about the other team's in the league who deserve bubble consideration?
The Seton Hall Pirates and USF Bulls both have 8-9 Big East Records and consider themselves worthy of a spot in the field.
As of March 5th, Only Seton Hall has been given any credit towards that consideration with their spot in the "Next Four Out."
What has hurt their chances? The Eye Test. For all you fans who don't know what the Eye test is, it's a blindfolded resume comparison in which analysts look at a team's record, conference record, RPI, and strength of schedule.
When comparing the three Big East team's resumes who are fighting for that historical ninth bid (Connecticut, Seton Hall, and USF), we see many flaws and similarities.
Take a look for yourself and see which team you would pick:
Team 1: Record: 17-11, Conference record 8-9, RPI 62, SOS 22.
Team 2: Record 17-13, Conference record 7-10, RPI 49, SOS 2.
Team 3: Record 18-11, Conference record 8-9, RPI 67, SOS 51.
That was an example of how the eye test works.
If your big thing is the conference record than Connecticut would be out. If you're a big RPI guy then you would have Connecticut in. If you're a record guy you'd pick USF to get the bid, and if you are an all-around guy then you'd pick Seton Hall. Not to mention they also have zero bad losses, something none of the other bubble team's can boast.
Putting this test aside, the team most worthy to get that ninth selection is Seton Hall, who also hold the best player of the bunch, Jeremy Hazell. Because of Hazell, not only would the Seton Hall Pirates have the best shot at making a run in the tournament, but they have also played the Big East beasts the toughest.
Seton Hall has a 0-4 record in overtime games, losing to West Virginia, Marquette, Virginia Tech, and USF. They have been competitive in all their losses, and don't have any bad losses all year, in and out of conference.
Hazell is averaging 21.3 points per game, third in the Big East. He also has the right pieces around him with Center Herb Pope who averages a double-double and is coming off a game in which he had 21 points and 18 rebounds at Rutgers, Memphis transfer Jeff Robinson (averaging 11.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game), and point guard Eugene Harvey who average 4.7 assists per game (fourth in the Big East).
How much is the eye test hurting Seton Hall's chances? Their head coach Bobby Gonzalez believes that if one of their overtime losses ended up the other way—for instance their 84-83 OT loss to Marquette this past Sunday—they would be in the field as of right now.
Saturday is a pivotal day for these Big East Bubble teams. Connecticut faces off at USF, while Seton Hall closes out the season at Providence.
Regardless of who wins in Tampa, if Seton Hall can beat Providence, the eye test may finally be beaming Hazell, and not green or blue anymore.
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