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Game Preview: St. John's vs Villanova aka nothing is impossible, just highly improbable

St. John's welcomes Big East leader Villanova to Madison Square Garden.

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Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

For the Johnnies, the question is: how and when can this dreaded losing streak end? The effort has often been solid, but the results - and the offense - have not matched that effort. The next opportunity to grab a victory is at home against the formidable Villanova Wildcats. This is also a great opportunity to put on a show for some of the nation's top talent who are expected to be in attendance.

Game Info

Who: St. John's Red Storm (7-14) vs #6 Villanova Wildcats (17-3)

Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

When: Sunday, January 31st, 12:00 PM

TV: Fox

Audio: 970 WNYM

Twitter: Follow @rumbleSBN and @StJohnsBBall for updates

Tickets: Plenty of seats remain and can be purchased here

Last Meeting: Villanova pummeled St. John's 105-68 last season

Fun Fact: Some students at Villanova believe that three buildings on campus are haunted.

Scouting Villanova

Villanova is one of the toughest teams in the nation, a perennial top10-15 team.

Last season the Wildcats won both the Big East regular season crown and were also the Big East Tournament champions. It was not long before the Wildcats were sent home packing as they ended up losing to NC State in the NCAA Tournament's round of 32. Over the offseason, Villanova lost 3 of its top 5 scorers including leading scorer Darrun Hillard. Despite losing a slew of key contributors, Villanova is still a tremendous basketball team and returns a number of leaders.

As always, Villanova has the ability to beat any from behind the arc. Villanova as a team averages about 8 made three pointers a game and shoots about 32% from the perimeter.

One of the best three-point shooters on the team is Ryan Arcidiacono who is currently shooting 35% from three-point territory. Not only can Arcidiacono knock down shots but he can penetrate and dish the ball when he needs to. He currently leads the Wildcats in assists averaging about 4.3 per contest and is tied for second on the team in free-throw attempts. Also he leads the team in steals per game and minutes per game. He is a senior, a veteran that Villanova relies on to help them win basketball games.

Another Wildcat to watch out for is big man Daniel Ochefu. When Villanova is firing on all cylinders, Ochefu is dominating the game grabbing rebounds, blocking rebounds, while scoring and passing out from the post. Currently, Daniel Ochefu is averaging about 10 points per game while securing about 8 rebounds and blocking 2 shots per contest. Despite his fantastic play this season his minutes per game do not seem to correspond with his performance on the court.

This season Ochefu only averages about 22 minutes per game which is surprisingly low for a player of his caliber. This situation is similar to what happened to Utah star Jakob Poeltl last season. Even though Poeltl was playing well and recording similar numbers to Ochefu, he was only playing 23 minutes per game. This season he is playing much more and his statistics show it as he has improved in many categories. Jay Wright may be conserving his energy and effort - while highlighting the many scoring options the Wildcats have. But if Ochefu starts dominating down-low the Johnnies will not have a chance to knock off the Wildcats.

Overall, Villanova is a imposing task for anyone in the country. The Wildcats force turnovers, they play big while knocking down shots, and they get to the free-throw line often. They will run a 1-2-2 press which will force St. John's to work with a shorten shot-clock the entire game, if they can even get the ball over half-court without turnovers.

How to Top Villanova

Slow down Ochefu: As stated above Daniel Ochefu has the ability to take over a basketball game. Keeping Ochefu from controlling the game is absolutely crucial if St. John's wants to win this basketball contest. The stifling Villanova is centered around the big man. The full-court pressure shortens the shot-clock for opponents and even when an opponent sets up offense, they notice Ochefu lurking in the paint protecting the rim and preventing easy baskets. Getting him in foul-trouble could be helpful because if he is sitting down he can not control the contest and anchor the Wildcats defense.

Shoot well: When a team is overmatched in a contest the most effective way to drop the giant is to shoot the ball well. Going back to one of the greatest Big East games of all time, the 1985 NCAA Championship is a great example of shooting the ball well. Villanova lead by legend Ed Pinckney was the obvious underdog in a match-up with the ferocious Georgetown Hoyas lead by one of the greatest players ever, Patrick Ewing. The way Villanova won was by shooting an absurd 80% from the field, it was in the words of Lou Carnesecca, "the perfect game." That 1985 Villanova team was probably better than this St. John's team and this Villanova team is certainly not the 85' Hoyas, but just like the 1985 NCAA Championship St. John's must shot very well to beat Villanova.

Hope Villanova is cold: One way to top Villanova is to shoot the ball at a high level. Another possible path to victory is if Villanova shoots poorly from the field. Villanova is not immune to cold shooting performances and their contest with Oklahoma earlier this season is a fabulous example of that. In that game Villanova shot a lackluster 32% from the field and 12% from three-point territory. Now if St. John's is crisp on their close-outs and plays strong defense just maybe Villanova is cold on Sunday. Slowing down the Villanova offense behind a hot St. John's offense just might be the perfect recipe for sending the Wildcats home losers.


The Villanova Wildcats should come out and thump the Johnnies on the road. Their ability to create turnovers and seemingly endless ways to score should give St. John's fits all day long. The only way this will be a contest is if St. John's plays with intensity throughout and prays the Wildcats are having an off-day.

Final Prediction: 86-62 Cats

Comment your prediction below!