Although they may now be playing for tournament seeding with two games remaining on the regular season, they will face the Marquette Golden Eagles tonight for a chance to extend their winning streak to four games.
How to Watch
The game is scheduled to tip around 9:00 P.M. and it will be nationally televised by Fox Sports 1, with Brian Anderson and Tarik Turner on the call. The radio broadcast can be found on 570 AM (WMCA) with John Minko handling announcing duties.
St. John's is currently only a one-point favorite on the road tonight.
Scouting St. John's
After the weekend's win over Georgetown, the Red Storm have now won three straight games and six of their last seven to improve their record to 20-9 on the season. With a 9-7 conference record, they sit in fifth place in the Big East as the conference tournament is set to begin next week.
With a win at Marquette tonight, this group of seniors will have their highest win total in their four seasons at St. John's, surpassing last year's win total of 20.
D`Angelo Harrison's points per game average has dipped to under 18 per game, however he still ranks second in the conference in scoring. Harrison had arguably one of the worst games of his St. John's career on Senior Day at the Garden over the weekend, playing just 20 minutes after picking up two fouls in the game's first 40 seconds, and scoring a season-low one point on 0-4 shooting.
Despite this, Red Storm fans can likely take solace in the fact that the poor performance was more due to foul trouble than anything else.
On the complete other end of the spectrum, Sir`Dominic Pointer played one of his best games of the season on Saturday in his final official home game at the Garden. Pointer dropped 24 points on Georgetown on 8-13 shooting, and added seven rebounds and two blocks as well.
That game extended Pointer's double-digit scoring streak to 14 games, and he has grabbed at least seven rebounds in 11 of those games as well. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn't feel as though Pointer should at least be considered for Big East Player of the Year this season, and he was named as the conference's player of the week on Monday.
Rysheed Jordan and Phil Greene IV also average over 13 points per game on the season for the Red Storm. Jordan had a quiet 15 points for the Red Storm on Saturday, while Greene notched a season-high 26 points on 9-15 shooting, including 6-7 shooting from 3-point range on the day.
Greene has now hit 15 of his last 27 shots from downtown in the past four games, and he's hit a 3 in every game that he's played in since a December 14th win over Fordham.
The Red Storm will be a bit short-handed tonight on the road, as they will be without Jamal Branch after the senior guard suffered a groin injury over the weekend.
Branch had started the game against Georgetown on Saturday, and was playing just over 20 minutes per game on the season.
The Golden Eagles are in an absolute tailspin, having lost five straight games and 11 of their last 12. They've won just one game since January 14th, and are now in last place in the Big East with a 3-13 conference record and an 11-17 overall record.
They are guaranteed to be in either last place or ninth place in the conference tournament next week.
Their leading scorer, Matt Carlino, returned to action last week after he missed four games due to a scary injury that he suffered against Villanova on February 4. Carlino scored 21 points on 8-18 shooting on Saturday against Providence, however he shot just 3-11 from 3-point range in that game.
In the last meeting between these two teams a little over a month ago, Carlino nearly took down the Red Storm all by himself, scoring 21 points including 5-11 shooting from downtown.
Freshman Duane Wilson has also emerged as one of the leaders in what has become a lost season for the Golden Eagles, averaging nearly 13 points per game on the year.
Wilson has scored in double-figures in each of his last five games, including a 22-point outburst against Providence over the weekend in which he hit a career-high seven 3-pointers.
St. John's will also have to worry about Juan Anderson and Luke Fischer on the boards tonight, as the two, along with Steve Taylor Jr., are really the only rebounders for a Marquette team that does not rank in the top 300 in the nation in rebounding.
Senior Guard Derrick Wilson is also third in the conference with just over four assists per game, and he's dished out at least four assists in seven of his past 10 games.
St. John's Keys to the Game
Here's what the Red Storm will have to do to complete a season sweep of the lowly Golden Eagles.
Blow the game open early. The last time that the Red Storm played against a subpar opponent on the road coming off an emotional game, they allowed Creighton to jump out to an 11-point lead in the first half on their way to an embarrassing 77-74 loss.
One of the main issues that the Johnnies have had this season has been playing down to the level of their competition. They've already lost games to Creighton and DePaul this season, and they've allowed Marquette, Seton Hall, and DePaul all hang around for much of the game in close victories this season.
There should be no reason that the Red Storm do not get out to a double-digit lead early and cruise to an easy victory.
Contain Carlino. Matt Carlino is easily the most prolific scorer on the Golden Eagles roster, and he nearly sunk the Red Storm with his 3-point shooting in the last meeting between these two teams.
Carlino is a shooter who does not need much space to get off a shot, and St. John's nearly learned that the hard way in their 60-57 win on January 21. If the Red Storm keep Carlino under control tomorrow night, there is no reason as to why they won't roll to an easy victory.
Win the rebounding battle. Marquette does not rank in the top 300 in the nation in rebounding, but they actually out rebounded St. John's in their last meeting 43-39. The Golden Eagles pulled down 20 offensive rebounds in that game in what was an unacceptable performance on the boards by the Red Storm.
Aside from Chris Obekpa's 10 rebounds and Sir`Dominic Pointer's 12, no one on St. John's grabbed more than four rebounds in that game as well. If the Red Storm can win the rebounding battle tomorrow night as well, that will only make things much easier for them on the road.
The Bottom Line
After an emotional past week that has put them in an outstanding position for an NCAA Tournament berth, there is no reason as to why the Red Storm should not roll to an easy victory tonight.
With a tough game on the road against 4th-ranked Villanova looming over the weekend, this game becomes all the more important for St. John's going forward, as they do not want to enter postseason play on a losing streak.
St. John's keeps Marquette around for a while, but eventually pulls away for a 78-62 victory.
What's your score prediction?