St. John's (18-11, 8-8) was looking NCAA Tournament-bound after a great streak of winning 9 of 10 games... but in their last two games it seems that their bubble has popped.
Or is there a small bubble of hope still floating somewhere?
In those last two games the opportunity to solidify their chances were right in front of them. A road game against a top-ten team in Villanova and a home game against Xavier could have put them in third place in the Big East with two games to go. Tough games, but the team simply didn't get the wins.
So now what for St. John's? At this point the team has to return to the mindset of the winning streak and just play to win every game. ESPN's resident bracketologist Joe Lunardi predicts St. John's will still be in the field of 68 as the last team in, after Minnesota, Tennessee and Providence. The first four out, to him, are Florida State, Oregon, Missouri and Georgetown.
CBS' Jerry Palm doesn't have St. John's in his field or in the first four out.
SB Nation's bracketologist had St. John's as a 12 seed, but before the Xavier loss.
If St. John's doesn't knock off DePaul on Senior Day, this team is NIT-bound (without winning the Big East Tournament). The regular season finale at Marquette won't be an easy victory, but the Johnnies could win on the road, helping their case for the NCAA Tournament bracket.
Likely, it'll come down to the Big East Tournament. If St. John's can land in the 4 seed/5 seed matchup, the Johnnies will be likely to see Marquette, Providence, or maybe even Xavier or Georgetown. The Johnnies have beaten Marquette, Georgetown and Providence and then would face Creighton going into the weekend which is exactly what they need.
Fourth year head coach Steve Lavin admitted "this was the strangest week in my coaching career," talking about the absences of Orlando Sanchez, Rysheed Jordan and the limited Chris Obekpa in the past two losses. Along with that he also said with all that going on there is no excuse because, "that doesn't affect our post defense."
It is unfair to pin both of these losses on one player but leading scorer and go-to man D`Angelo Harrison was 5-26 from the field, 1-9 from deep, and only had 17 points in those two games. St. John's needs him to carry the team when the defense isn't creating points.
The Big East Conference as a whole is setting up for a wild finish for the middle teams. There are only two games in between the 3 seed in the conference and the 7 seed. As for St. John's, yes they are still on the bubble, barely, but they are very close to slipping off for good.