With the selection committee unveiling their bracket in a couple of hours, St. John's delivered a shocker, one that will change the chances of the Johnnies making any sort of run if they make the tournament today.
The school has announced that forward Chris Obekpa has been suspended from the team for two weeks for a violation of team rules. The shot-blocker is now unable to travel with the team and will not be eligible to play again unless his teammates make a deep tournament run to the Final Four.
Obekpa was disciplined earlier in the season when he was taken out of the starting lineup indefinitely for elbowing Tyler Wideman during a loss at Butler. He was ejected in the first half of that match-up. He recently returned to the starting lineup and has played major minutes in the fast few games including the underwhelming loss against Providence in the Big East Tournament.
Back on December 14, the 6'10" big man was also ejected after earning two flagrant fouls against fellow New York school, Fordham, at Madison Square Garden.
Obekpa is averaging 5.8 points per game this season, 7.0 rebounds per game and 3.1 blocks per game (the fifth best in the nation). He is shooting 46 percent from the field (down from 57 percent last season) and 51 percent from the free throw line (up 11 percent from last season).
Without the team's best interior defender, the Johnnies will now have to rely on Amar Alibegovic and Joey De La Rosa while also possibly playing a five guard lineup. If Felix Balamou is healthy (eye injury), he will also likely see more minutes off the bench.
The Johnnies have had off the court issues and injury issues all season long so this is just the latest of unfortunate news for a team that has loads of experience and talent to do damage in the Big Dance.