In the first evening session game of the Big East Tournament's first round, the 2012 NCAA Tournament hopes for the 10th-seeded Seton Hall Pirates (19-11, 8-10 Big East) may lie in the balance as the Pirates face a likely must-win matchup against the No. 15-seeded Providence Friars (15-16, 4-14 Big East).
The Pirates seemed to be headed back to the Big Dance for the first time in six years before suffering a stunning blowout loss to conference cellar-dweller DePaul in their regular season finale. It was a defeat that left Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard both knowing his team's back is against the wall and quoting Keanu Reeves.
"I used the analogy from the movie ‘The Replacements,' " Willard said Monday morning. "It feels like we're in quicksand. We're fighting and fighting and fighting and fighting. It's not like we didn't come out ready. We're fighting and it seems like the more things we tried to do -- the more we tried to fight -- the more we got stuck. And we started sinking."
In order to get themselves unstuck, Seton Hall must first dispatch a Providence team they defeated 66-57 way back on Jan. 7. Sophomore Fuquan Edwin scored a then-career-high 24 points (he'd surpass that total less than a week later in a win over DePaul) and grabbed nine rebounds to help put away the Friars. Edwin (12.6 ppg), along with teammates Herb Pope (15.3 ppg) and Jordan Theodore (16 ppg), is one of three Pirates who enters the postseason averaging double figures.
Providence has four players currently averaging at least 10 points per game, led by junior guard Vincent Council's 16.2 points. Sophomore guard Bryce Cotton averages 14.4 ppg and freshman forward LaDontae Henton chips in 14.3. Sophomore guard Gerard Coleman is fourth at 13.5 ppg.
The winner will face the No. 7-seeded Louisville Cardinals on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. ET.
For more on the game, be sure to visit our Seton Hall blog, South Orange Juice.