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SI’s Big East projections have St. John’s near the bottom

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Interesting take by the quant predictions at SI

Wendell Cruz

Sports Illustrated has their annual college rankings out, and their quantitative projections and simulations don't like St. John's as much as some other outlets, such as the preseason rankings from KenPom.

The SI crew have the Johnnies finishing eighth with a 6-12 league record - three league wins below the top seven. This, despite predicting slight increases in per game point production from Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett.

A blurb from the preview:

...On balance, this rotation isn’t sturdy enough to support the program’s first run to the NCAAs since head coach Chris Mullin took over prior to the 2015–16 season.

This idea has some merit.

The projections include an offensive efficiency improvement for Kassoum Yakwe, which is a reasonable thought given how highly he was regarded in high school and his age. One of the big questions for the team is whether they can provide inside-outside balance. Some balance - for example, from shots created by Marvin Clark in the low post - would take some of the attacking responsibility off of Bashir Ahmed, who could be more efficient when not driving into the teeth of defense, trying to create points when the Johnnies struggle.

Given the projections SI posts for each of the top seven players, it seems that the issue in these ratings are about the defense.

The Red Storm's defense had some poor stretches last season, and will be a point of attention early in the season. If that defense improves, the Red Storm should be able to outdo this prediction.