Two birds, one stone.
It's all Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia in front of Seton Hall # 12. The chance to end a 17-game losing streak against Villanova that started in February 1994, and the chance to win one by three games and seven remaining league competitions Obtain a stranglehold on the Great East.
"A win would be huge at all levels," said pirate trainer Kevin Willard in a phone interview on the eve of the showdown.
Seton Hall against Villanova has become one of the most important rivalries in the Great East. The two teams have played in the final of the Big East tournament in two of the past four years. Though the Wildcats owned the conference, the pirates were an eyesore and struck them once in three of the last five seasons.
However, it has remained one-sided in Philadelphia. Villanova's 17 wins were down 16 points on average. But the tenor is different this year.
"They are the leaders of the conference," said Villanova coach Jay Wright about the pirates. "I think they are one of the best teams in the country."
Exceptionally, Villanova No. 10 (17-5, 7-3) looks at Seton Hall (17-5, 9-1) in the overall standings. The Pirates have the best player – the pre-season All-American Myles Powell – on the ground and the more experienced, battle-proven squad. A pirate victory would hardly come as a surprise. They are undefeated on the road while Villanova has suffered consecutive losses, including a setback against Butler # 19. Powell made it out of a shootout when he scored 34 points in an away win against Georgetown on Wednesday, and second-scorer Sandro Mamukelashvili gradually looked like him after seven weeks with a broken right hand.
"We are really looking forward to it [Saturday]"Security guard Quincy McKnight, one of Seton Hall's three senior starters, said." It's a big game. It's always a big game when we play Villanova. "
Willard does not agree that the rivalry is different. Seton Hall may lead Villanova in the overall standings and the wildcats lack seniors, but they still remain impressive. In his eyes, they are still the team to beat as last season's regular and tournament Big East champion.
"Until someone finally wins the conference, we'll all hunt it down," he said.
Maybe a lot would change if Seton Hall won. The pirates would become the clear leader on the way to their first league crown since 1993. For this to happen, Seton Hall has to leave Philadelphia as the winner – which hasn't happened in nearly three decades.
"Obviously it would mean a lot. We didn't win there  Years is a crazy thing, ”said McKnight. "They are a great team, sometimes that happens. It would be great for us to break this series, for the program and the university as a whole.
"It would be a statement win."