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Game Preview - Villanova at St. John's in the Garden

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

With all the conference realignment and shifting throughout the years, there are at least two staples that remain in this traditional basketball league.

The surprising #8/ #10 in the nation Villanova Wildcats (14-1, 3-0 Big East) will meet the Red Storm (9-5, 0-2) at Madison Square Garden tomorrow afternoon at 1 PM. The game can be seen on Fox Sports 1 and will be called by Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery.

This will be the two schools' 108th matchup with the Johnnies leading 60-47. Two of the last three meetings have need overtime to settle the score, Villanova came out on top of all of those including a win in the Big East Tournament.

Scouting St. John's

St. John's has had a rollercoaster season, one that looks like it may have hit bottom after an embarrassing loss at Georgetown last week.

Steve Lavin is becoming the person of blame among SJU fans because of his rotation of starting lineups. During the first two conference games there were lineups which found the reigning Big East Rookie of the Year JaKarr Sampson and highly regarded recruit Rysheed Jordan on the bench.

Those two were benched in favor recently-activated-from-redshirt Felix Balamou, God`sgift Achiuwa who has played limited minutes, and walk-on Khadim Ndiaye. Lavin said after the game that he simply wanted to give Khadim "a look" - in a big conference game.

After the game, Lavin said that Ndiaye is "a kid who works really hard, lives in the gym... he rotates and takes charges and distributes the ball to the open man, and is coachable and adds value as a teammate and has a certain maturity or bearing that's impressive. "

Sampson showed his disappointment after the game - and what might have been a lesson to him and others - but he is expected to be back in starting five, although Lavin wouldn't commit to a lineup yesterday.

Both Lavin and leading scorer D`Angelo Harrison praised Sampson in practice this week, with Lavin saying that "it's been his best run of practices since he's been here."

St. John's players aren't afraid to say what the fans are demanding going into this Villanova game. "We need a win," juniors Sir`Dominic Pointer and Phil Greene IV said, and both are aware of the importance of this game.

Both players also stated that they need to come out with a certain hunger and after the embrassment last weekend, they "need to get back up."

Scouting Villanova

The Villanova Wildcats are 14-1 and one of the most surprising teams in the country. They are for real. Remember, this team could easily be undefeated after starting out a on phenomenal first half run at Syracuse which had them up 18 points.

They also have had very impressive wins against Kansas and Iowa in the Bahamas back in November. Villanova can score with anyone and they showed that this week against Seton Hall. The Hall shot the ball well but not as well as Villanova, who scored 83 points, and it seemed like Seton Hall was never in it.

Lavin and his players commented that the Wildcats play hard and together. That couldn't be more true.

Brooklyn's JayVaughn Pinkston has developed into a good inside-outside player and matchup problem, while defensive-minded wing James Bell was unstoppable on offense early in the year and could be the most improved player in the conference. The Wildcats just know how to play basketball, sharing the ball, getting the right shot, and controlling the paint on defense.

Jay Wright's squad is led by sophomore point guard Ryan Arcidiacono, a hard worker on the floor. Although he has struggled from deep he has shown he can hit deep shots.

Quick Game Notes

  • D'Angelo Harrison sustained a knee injury against Georgetown but, "Had tons of treatment... and will be ready to go."
  • Harrison has played very well against Villanova. In 2 games (didn't play in Big East Tournament because of suspension) he has averaged 32 points per game. He has shot 52% from field.
  • Freshman Rysheed Jordan injured the same ankle he did before Georgetown in practice but should be able to play.


Villanova 85 St. John's 75