Seton Hall Reaches NIT Semifinals, On the Cusp of Winning First Title Since 1953

Overshadowed by this year’s March Madness has been the Seton Hall men’s basketball team and their dominant run in this year’s Nationals Invitation Tournament (NIT). After narrowly missing out on the March Madness and being named as one of the first four teams out, Seton Hall accepted their invitation to participate in the NIT. Finishing 4th in the Big East with a 23-12 record, the Pirates went into the tournament as one of the most dangerous teams and were ruled as a 1 seed.

The NIT was founded in 1938 and it initially held more prestige than the NCAA’s D1 Tournament due to greater media coverage since all tournament games were played at Madison Square Garden. Over time, the tournament lost its notoriety but remains an impressive feat for any program that is able to walk out as a champion.

Seton Hall’s History in the NIT

The Pirates have made 19 appearances in the NIT since first making it in 1941. In that span of more than 80 years, they own a record of 11-19, with just one championship. Seton Hall’s sole championship came in 1953 when they took down St. John’s in the final by a score of 58-46. Following their championship win, the Pirates would tally a win against Marquette in 1956 and would not win again until 2012, when they took down Stony Brook. In their 56-year drought, Seton Hall made 10 appearances in the tournament, getting eliminated in the first round every time.

The NIT’s previous format meant that the Pirates only had to earn 3 victories to become champions, but with an expanded field, they will now need to earn 5 wins. Seton Hall won their first game in a nail-biter against Saint Joseph’s, winning 75-72 in an overtime victory, however, they have been cruising since that game. In their second matchup, the Pirates took on the defending NIT champs, North Texas, who they easily defeated 72-58. In their game, Seton Hall earned an even more dominant win, beating the University of Nevada, Las Vegas by a score of 91-68.

The Pirates’ Path to the Championship

Seton Hall’s next game will be on Tuesday, Apr. 2, where they take on the 4-seed Georgia Bulldogs, with the winning team punching their ticket to the finals. The Pirates will enter the game 4.5-point favorites over the Bulldogs, with the dominant performances in their last 2 games paving the way.

The Pirates will be relying on big performances from seniors Amir Al-Dawes and Dre Davis, both of whom have been instrumental to the team’s success in the NIT. Davis has averaged 15 points and 7 rebounds in the Pirates’ 3 games, while Al-Dawes has averaged 20 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists.

If Seton Hall is able to defeat Georgia tomorrow, then they will go on to face either 1-seed Indiana State or 2-seed Utah. Regardless of the matchup, the Pirates will have their work cut out for them, with both teams playing well this year. However, this team is no stranger to powerhouse programs, as earlier in the year they took down UConn, who are widely considered to be one of the best college basketball teams in recent memory. Now, Seton Hall will look to channel a similar performance and reach the NIT Championship for the first time since 1953.