St. John's Big East Conference schedule preview 2011

On the eve of conference play, I'm not sure I would believe anyone who tells me they can predict what St. John's men's basketball team is going to do in the conference months. The Storm has a heavy schedule.

The title of this article is a misnomer, obviously. The upcoming slate includes two more marquee non-conference games against the Duke Blue Devils and the UCLA Bruins plus a Big East schedule that is heavy early, and more forgiving late. But there is little forgiveness in a Big East schedule.

Making the NCAA Tournament is going to be a tough task... especially entering conference play with 3 losses to mediocre Atlantic-10 teams and a good West Coast Conference squad.

The first month of the schedule could very well plunge the Red Storm under .500 overall. The usual folks will come out and say that they told "you" so (where the "YOU" is a strawman who never said the Red Storm would be 6th in the league - no one believed that). And it will be tough for the team to maintain confidence through the tough slog of the first month.

With that in mind, also consider that if the Red Storm are over .500 at the end of January, they will have to steal a couple of games from teams that go into conference play looking like real contenders. With bad losses to New York State teams that shall not be mentioned, this is the tough road for the Johnnies to hoe.

 

The RPI and Pomeroy numbers of the upcoming opponents:

Date RPI Pom Rk Sagarin Team W L
Red Storm 24 52 56
WE, D. 29 5 18 10 @ West Virginia 8 2
SA, J. 1 60 68 70 @ Providence 11 2
Mon, J. 3 2 8 4 Georgetown 11 1
SA, J. 8 38 35 18 @ Notre Dame 11 1
WE, J. 12 6 7 9 Syracuse 13 0
SU, J. 16 38 35 18 Notre Dame 11 1
WE, J. 19 29 9 17 @ Louisville 11 1
SA, J. 22 94 36 26 Cincinnati 12 1
WE, J. 26 2 8 4 @ Georgetown 11 1
SU, J. 30 3 2 3 Duke 11 1
WE, F. 2 117 94 82 Rutgers 9 2
SA, F. 5 87 60 87 @ UCLA 8 4
TH, F. 10 7 32 12 Connecticut 10 1
SU, F. 13 94 36 26 @ Cincinnati 12 1
TU, F. 15 171 40 64 @ Marquette 9 3
SA, F. 19 11 4 8 Pittsburgh 13 1
WE, F. 23 273 181 231 DePaul 6 6
SA, F. 26 36 13 25 @ Villanova 10 1
TH, M. 3 150 59 104 @ Seton Hall 6 6
SA, M. 5 101 121 127 South Florida 6 7

The average RPI of the opponents, as taken from Warren Nolan's site. is 27.7 for the first half of the schedule, and 104.7 in the second half of the schedule. The average Pomeroy rank, as taken from kenpom.com, is 22.6 in the first half of the schedule and 64 in the second half. Sagarin numbers: 17.9 in the first half and 76.6 in the second half of the remaining schedule.

Average Rank of Opp
Period
RPI
Pom Rk
Sagarin
12/29-1/31
27.7
22.6
17.9
2/1-3/5
104.7
64
76.6

These numbers will change. I don't expect Louisville, Providence, or Cincinnati to be as good as they seem to have been in the early going. And numbers aren't the be-all, end-all. But the month of January could well be a winless month if the Red Storm don't defend the perimeter as well as they did against Northwestern. That's the kind of daunting schedule that may have writers "leaving the Red Storm for dead", followed by talk of the team "getting it" or a "Johnny rebirth." Steve Lavin's UCLA teams often peaked late, as is his intention.

Even if the Red Storm can capture some of the Lavin magic and reel off a smoking hot February, they need to win 4 games to remain relevant. And they need to win 5, maybe 6 games to realistically stay (or get to) the NCAA Bubble.

That's going to be difficult. Cincinnati, a pair of games against Notre Dame, and Providence loom large as games the team needs to win. And with a defeat of the Georgetown Hoyas or the Syracuse Orange at home, or Louisville away, the team can start talking dancing, postseason, rebirth, going out like seniors should go out.

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