After losing to Notre Dame in the second round of the Big East tournament last Wednesday, Seton Hall guard Jeremy Hazell confessed that the Pirates' chances of making the NCAA tournament were dim.
"Our destiny going to postseason and the NCAA tournament is in other people's hands," Hazell said in the Seton Hall locker room.
Destiny has taken the Pirates (19-12) to the NIT, where they will host Texas Tech (17-15) in a first-round game at the Prudential Center on Tuesday night (9 p.m.).
After a loss to No. 1 Kansas, 80-68, in the Big 12 quarterfinals, Texas Tech has now lost eight of nine games.
The winner will face the winner of the game between No. 1 Arizona State and No. 8 Jacksonville in the second round.
"Whatever postseason we get to, we're going to make the best of it and we're going to try to make a run of it," said Hazell, a second-team All-Big East selection.
Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez said before the season began that his No. 1 goal was to make the NCAA tournament and that he wasn't "going to be satisfied with the NIT."
But with a 9-9 record in the Big East and a 10th-place finish, the NCAA Tournament just wasn't in the cards.
Dan Guerrero, head of the NCAA selection committee, has repeatedly said that Seton Hall's non-conference schedule simply wasn't strong enough for an NCAA bid.
"If I'm a coach I want to make sure I leave nothing to chance, and you can start with your schedule," Guerrero told Mike Francesa on WFAN. "The committee will say, 'Who did you play that you didn't have to play during the non-conference season?' That sends a message. You don't want to roll the dice and take the risk of leaving a stone unturned."
Now the Pirates are one of five Big East teams in the NIT. Also on Tuesday, UConn (17-15) hosts Northeastern (20-12) and South Florida (20-12) hosts N.C. State (19-15).
On Wednesday, St. John's (17-15) visits Memphis (23-9) and Cincinnati (18-15) hosts Weber State (20-10).
Seton Hall enters the postseason without junior forward Robert "Stix" Mitchell, who was removed from the team by Gonzalez just hours before the NCAA bracket was announced Sunday.
Mitchell publicly criticized Gonzalez's substitution patterns in an article in The Bergen Record, and the coach said he wanted to deal with it right away because "you don't want any malcontent or cancerous type stuff."
The Pirates held a team meeting on Sunday but did not watch the NCAA tournament announcement on CBS because Gonzalez didn't want his team to become dispirited.
Still, during the team meeting earlier, several players stood up and talked about what an NIT bid meant.
"If we get picked for the NIT, we'll have the same attitude just like if we was getting picked for the NCAA," sophomore point guard Jordan Theodore said last week. "It's a national tournament and we want to win."