Seton Hall and No. 19 Ohio State enter Monday's matchup at the Fort Myers Tip-Off in Florida with very different mindsets. That is not surprising coming off their most recent games.
Seton Hall (3-0) stunned No. 4 Michigan 67-65 on the road on Tuesday, while Ohio State (3-1) fell 71-65 at Xavier on Friday night.
"This is where we are as a program," Pirates coach Kevin Willard said after the upset of the Wolverines. "I expected us to win this game. This wasn't a shock to me. I feel we can play against anybody in the country, any night, and I think we've done that for the last seven years and we've proved it. So, for me, this is what the program should be doing."
The Buckeyes didn't fare as well against the Musketeers in Cincinnati. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic that resulted in empty arenas last season, the Buckeyes had their first true road environment since March 8, 2020, at Michigan State.
The Xavier fans taunted Ohio State with chants of "Oral Roberts," referring to the No. 15 seed that upset the second-seeded Buckeyes in last season's NCAA Tournament.
"We came to shootaround and there were 250 students greeting us in a really friendly way on the way in," Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said sarcastically. "That's good for our team. It's good for college basketball. Doesn't feel good right now. Feels terrible, but I'm glad we were part of it. I'm glad our young guys got to experience this environment because hopefully it'll prepare us more for what our league is, which is I think some of the best environments in all of college basketball."
The Buckeyes didn't handle it well, falling behind Xavier by as many as 11 points in the second half.
"I, obviously, need to get us tougher and we need to embrace the idea that we have to play a lot tougher," Holtmann said. "It's on all of us. We have to do a much better job of that and grow from this."
He was particularly concerned that Ohio State was outrebounded 43-35 and allowed 16 offensive rebounds.
"I think we've got to focus on a few things, rebounding being one of them," Holtmann said. "I thought our ability to play with force has to get better."
Seton Hall is brimming with confidence after rallying from 11 down at Michigan. The Pirates are holding opponents to 31.4 percent shooting from the field, including 13.3 percent from 3-point range.
They also have depth.
"We're going to be one of the best teams in the country and we are one of the best teams in the country because we can play 10 guys," Willard said.
A side note is that first-year Ohio State assistant coach Tony Hall spent the previous three seasons as Willard's assistant at Seton Hall.
Florida and California play in the second game with winner vs. winner and loser vs. loser games Wednesday in the four-team division.
--Field Level Media