Some truncated pregame notes for St. John's vs. Villanova, a tough matchup that right now looks like a battle for the basement of the Big East. The Wildcats play a fast pace and are willing to get up and down the court, so St. John's should score more than 49 points this afternoon in Madison Square Garden.
But can the Johnnies defend well enough to win?
Can they control the game in the second half?
Can the Red Storm's stars stay out of foul trouble?
See our pregame Q&A's to get to know Villanova a bit better:
What are your thoughts on the keys to the game? Game time, location, how to watch/ listen, and Villanova Strengths and Weaknesses, below the fold.
Tip Off: 1:00 PM, Eastern
Vs: Villanova Wildcats (9-10, 2-5 Big East)
Location: Madison Square Garden
TV: ESPNU Radio: Bloomberg 1130 | Sirius: 94 | XM Radio: 190
Opposition blog/ message board: Villanova by the Numbers | VU Hoops | The Nova Blog
Wildcats Strength: Imposing size. Mouphtaou Yarou, Markus Kennedy, and JayVaughn Pinkston are a physical and imposing front line for St. John's to contend with. The Wildcats are in the top 4 of the conference in rebounding at both ends - the Red Storm need to get better at fighting for rebounds. The Johnnies are aware of the problem. Sir`Dominic Pointer spoke about what the team needs to do:
"Actually getting down the court and actually fighting and getting more than one person on the rebound, just putting more people down there so we have a chance. Also boxing out well, hitting them before we go get the ball, either pushing them away from the basket or getting them up under the basket and tracking down the ball."
Wildcats Strength: Aggressive offense. In the last game, Maalik Wayns drew 16 free throw attempts. JayVaughn Pinkston drew 17. 6 of Wayns' attempts were in the final minute, to extend the game for Seton Hall. But both are legitimately aggressive in looking for their shots.
Wildcats Weakness: Sloppy, uncohesive play. Aggressiveness sometimes has a downside, and Wayns can certainly take some bad shots, as can Dominic Cheek. The team shoots 29.5% from outside the arc in conference play, and is slowly weaning themselves from three-pointers and drawing more fouls. Nova is also 12th in the conference, turning the ball over on 22.6% of their possessions. They've had bouts of sloppy play; the combination of bad shots and turnovers make the offense less reliable than it needs to be.
Wildcats Weakness: Perimeter defense. There are three-point shots available against the Wildcats, and opponents are hitting them at a 35.5% clip. Nova's two wins came when they stifled the three-pointer. (Which doesn't bode well for the Red Storm, who are worst in the conference at three-point shooting.)