One of the few times when Villanova hasn't won the Big East regular season or conference tournament title, since the conference restructured prior to the 2013-14 season, was when Seton Hall won a 69-67 thriller over Villanova in the Big East Tournament Championship inside Madison Square Garden in 2016.
The Pirates' roster has turned over and the players from its 2016 roster are now gone. But a new group, led by National Player of the Year candidate Myles Powell (21.4 points per game), are aiming to win the school's first Big East regular season title since Seton Hall shared the honor with Georgetown and St. John's in 1992.
Through Tuesday's games, Seton Hall (8-1 Big East) has a one-game lead over Villanova (7-2 Big East). But it still has two regular season games remaining against the reigning regular season and conference tournament champions.
Seton Hall at Villanova: Time, TV channel
Villanova will host Seton Hall at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8. The broadcast will be on FOX.
Seton Hall at Villanova: Preview
Seton Hall's perfect conference record came to an end on Feb. 1 against Xavier, as the Musketeers absolutely dominated in the offensive and defensive glass — 45.2 offensive rebounding percentage to Seton Hall's 11.9 percent and an 88.1 defensive rebounding percentage to Seton Hall's 54.8 percent — en route to a 12-point win.
Myles Powell had one of his quietest games of the season, scoring just nine points on 3-of-14 shooting as he was hounded by Xavier small forward Naji Marshall for most of the afternoon.
Villanova may not have a rebounder like Xavier's Tyrique Jones (fifth nationally in offensive rebounding percentage, 39th in defensive rebounding percentage) but it does have an offense that ranks roughly 80 spots higher nationally in terms of efficiency.
The Wildcats have five players who average double figures — Collin Gillespie (15.3 ppg), Saddiq Bey (15.0 ppg), Justin Moore (11.1 ppg), Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (11.0 ppg) and Jermaine Samuels (10.9 ppg) — and four players who are nationally ranked on kenpom.com for their offensive rating, which speaks to the team's efficiency on that end of the floor.
This season's Villanova team isn't full of 3-point marksmen like its 2018 title team that shot 40.1 percent collectively or the 2016-18 teams that each ranked in the top three nationally in 2-point percentage, but the current group of Wildcats takes really good care of the ball (16.4 percent turnover rate, 30th nationally), makes a high percentage of its free throws (78.1 percent, eighth nationally) and has high 3-point attempt and assist rates.
While Powell's scoring ability is the first thing that comes to mind for many fans when they think about Seton Hall, it's the Pirates' defense that sets them apart. They're allowing 89.9 points per 100 possessions, which ranks 13th nationally.
7-2 center Romaro Gill is one of the best rim-protectors in the country (he blocks 14.6 percent of opponents' 2-point attempts when he's on the floor) and four of the team's guards/wings are nationally ranked for their steal percentage: Quincy McKnight, Jared Rhoden, Myles Cale and Powell.
McKnight left the floor near the end of the team's loss to Xavier with an injury, so his availability is one storyline to keep an eye on for this matchup.