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Villanova Basketball 2023-24 Game Preview: Seton Hall Pirates

Villanova aims to pick up a win before the bubble bursts. The Wildcats will get their first look at Seton Hall.

NCAA Basketball: Villanova at Seton Hall Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

After a disappointing loss against Xavier, where the Villanova Wildcats (12-11, 5-7 Big East) failed to get a shot off in their final possession, Nova Nation must move on and brace for the ‘Cats next test. They will welcome the Seton Hall Pirates (15-8, 8-4) to Philadelphia on Super Bowl Sunday.

These days, waking up on game day is preparing to get hurt as we watch the team slowly slip away from the blue blood that Jay Wright built. The only emotion I have left for this team is…sadness.

But hey, attitude, right? Just keep coming to every game? Be the best version of ourselves by the end of the season?

A positive attitude is much easier to maintain when the players and their coaches are doing things the “Wright” way. Refs miss a foul call, players miss open threes, that’s all fine if the calls are made the “Wright” way.

When the ‘Cats play harder than their opponent, when they run sets that create open looks every possession, we can accept tough losses.

After losing seven of their last nine games, it’s tough to keep a positive attitude, but the ‘Cats are on the bubble with eight games left to play. The Wildcats must turn around their approach if they want to make the tournament.

Transfer Portal Success

Sunday’s matchup marks the first time Seton Hall and Villanova will face off this season. Although many were critical of Seton Hall’s moves in the transfer portal this past offseason, Shaheen Holloway has been able to get the most out of his team.

For context, Seton Hall lost three key contributors last season and brought in players from low-major programs. There were plenty of skeptics, including myself, who thought Seton Hall was in for a tough year. The Pirates were projected to finish in ninth place behind the likes of Georgetown and only a couple of spots higher than last-place DePaul.

More than midway through conference play, they’ve flipped the script.

Instead, Seton Hall currently sits alone in third place in the Big East behind UConn and Marquette. The Pirates handed UConn their only conference loss of the season, beating them by 15 at home. The team also earned a win over Marquette this season.

Despite all this success, the Pirates were just able to break a recent slump by defeating the two Big East slump-busters: DePaul and Georgetown. Before playing DePaul and Georgetown, Seton Hall lost three straight to all quality opponents: Creighton, Providence and Marquette.

The hope this Sunday is that Villanova can pick up a win and avoid falling into the same slump-buster category as DePaul and Georgetown, who have been stuck in the bottom tier of the conference this season.

Brooklyn Makes, The World Takes?

Is that how the saying goes? I don’t think so, but it’s definitely relevant for this year’s Seton Hall team. The Pirates live and die through the plays of senior guard Kadary Richmond.

Richmond leads the team with team-highs of 16.1 points, 5.0 assists, and 2.1 steals per game. He’s a true Swiss army knife and is also the team’s second-highest rebounder at 7.0 boards per game, just a half board behind Jaden Bediako.

Richmond got injured late in the triple-overtime loss against Creighton and missed his home game against Providence, which are Seton Hall’s only two home conference losses all season. Richmond also missed the following game at Marquette where they suffered an 18-point loss.

Richmond is a 6-foot-6 guard who can do a little bit of everything on the court, as shown by his stats. After shooting 44.4% from three last season, Richmond’s three point attempts are only up from 1.3 to 1.5 per game, but his percentage is down to 18.8%.

This is a truly shocking stat, but not something the Wildcats should test out due to his shooting success the rest of his career.

Like Richmond, a former Syracuse player, Dre Davis (Louisville) and Al-Amir Dawes (Clemson) are also thriving in their second year at Seton Hall and enjoying career-best seasons.

Davis is averaging 14.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. He shoots 49.0% overall and 35.7% from deep. Dawes is another scoring guard to watch for, who’s averaging 14.0 points per game.

With both teams hungry for a quality win, all that’s left to do is play the game. Seton Hall looks to maintain their first round bye in the Big East Tournament while improving their NCAA Tournament seeding, whereas Villanova simply looks to make the NCAA Tournament.

Shaheen Holloway has done a great job with the team in his second year at Seton Hall, after an up-and-down first year. It’s always a battle whenever these two teams take the court.

The game will take place Sunday at noon EST on CBS Sports Network, which should leave everyone with plenty of time to get ready for the Super Bowl at night.