Traveling the Red Storm: road victories will mean a higher NCAA seed

All the talk about the improved Red Storm has been about their giant upset wins over ranked teams at home. But lately, St. John’s has taken its show on the road with two impressive victories over bubble teams Cincinnati and Marquette this week. These wins go a long way to making St. John’s tourney resume more legitimate.

Today, the NCAA Tournament Committee has a mock selection committee for the writers to show what they are going to consider when evaluating teams for the tourney in March. The Red Storm have the RPI, the strength of schedule, and the quality wins AT HOME. But before this week they lacked in one area. True road wins.

The Johnnies are currently 4-6 in what the NCAA looks at as "true road games", including blowing a 20 point lead at Fordham back in December. Lately, they have picked it up, but the Red Storm had an awful stretch in January where they struggled to score on the road against tough Big East competition, while defending poorly. Here are some of the results:

1/8/11: @Notre Dame L 76-61 – offense: 38.2 FG%; defense: 51FG%
1/19/11: @Louisville L 88-63 – offense: 44.9%; defense: 53.2%
1/26/11: @Georgetown L 77-52 – offense: 33.9%; defense: 51%

St. John’s has taken a massive step in its performance away from home because of good shot selection. Against the three teams mentioned above in the conference, they got behind very early due to poor shooting. Against the Bearcats and Golden Eagles, they were able to find a rhythm in their offense and create easy baskets, which is what you need to do on the road. And the shooting percentages help show it:

2/13/11: @Cincinnati W 59-57 – offense: 50.0%; defense: 35.8%
2/15/11: @Marquette W 80-68 – offense: 44.8%; defense: 43.5%

Another reason for the recent surge has to be the play of team MVP Dwight Hardy. In the three conference road games before Cincy, Hardy had no more than 10 points (at Georgetown) and averaged just nine points per game.

Now, Hardy is in a groove with 18 against Cincinnati and 26 in the win over Marquette Wednesday night. Clearly, he is the cog that makes the Red Storm machine run.

When the NCAA Selection Committee evaluates a team, they look at how the team plays away from home. The Johnnies have the wins to pad an already impressive resume. They are winning the games when they matter the most.

If St. John's can beat Villanova and Seton Hall in their final two road games, a 6-6 road record in the best conference in America would be even more impressive for this team and an eye opener for the committee, and what seed the Red Storm receive.

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