As announced Wednesday, the Johnnies have drawn Michigan State for their opening round contest in the Bahamas’ Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament. That opening contest, in the elite tournament that pays participants $2 million for participating at last reporting, will be held on November 23rd at 7:00 PM ET, televised on AXS TV. (AXS TV may not be available in your area, if you’re wondering what that channel is.)
The Battle 4 Atlantis is a three-day tournament running from November 23rd-25th. St. John’s has a member of last year’s Michigan State squad on the roster in 6’6” Marvin Clark, Jr., but he is redshirting next season according to NCAA transfer rules.
St. John’s has squared off with the Spartans twice in their history. The last match-up came back in 1979, where the Johnnies emerged triumphant in that season’s Lapchick Tournament Championship.
The only other match-up between these two came in the opening round of the 1968 ECAC Holiday Festival, hosted at Madison Square Garden. St. John’s, led by Lou Carnesecca, dropped Michigan State by a score of 61-51.
Jon Rothstein reports the winner/loser of St. John’s and Michigan St. will play against the winner/loser of VCU and Baylor.
On the opposite side of the bracket, Louisville will compete against Old Dominion and Wichita State will play LSU in the opening round. The winner/loser of Louisville and Old Dominion earns the right to tangle with the winner/loser of Wichita State and LSU.
Taking an early look the field, St. John’s has a chance to win 2-3 games in Atlantis. Their toughest test comes in the first round against the Spartans; after that either VCU or Baylor could be beatable. If St. John’s were to advance all the way to the championship, it seems most likely they would meet Louisville. Once again, the Cardinals are a tough, highly-talented team that could give Mullin’s bunch fits.
St. John’s fans should be optimistic about next year, and the Battle for Atlantis could raise expectations - or remind fans of how far the Red Storm still need to go to recover from the past 8-24 season.
Coach Mullin returns an array of talent from last season’s team while adding pieces to next season’s team. New players to watch for are top-50 guard Shamorie Ponds, JUCO wing Bashir Ahmed, German forward Richard Freudenberg. The Johnnies also welcome a pair of redshirts to the floor in red and white in the duo of Marcus LoVett and Tariq Owens who sat out the 2015-16 season.