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NBC Sports lists St. John’s back court in top-20

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Respect earned. Can the Johnnies’ guards keep up the high scoring, efficient play?

NCAA Basketball: St. John at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

NBC Sports has been ranking a number of things (including players) in the run-up to the college basketball season. And as expected, the high-scoring backcourt of St. John’s has earned a nod.

18. ST. JOHN’S: Shamorie Ponds, Marcus Lovett Jr., Justin Simon: I was torn on where to rank this group, but the bottom-line is this: Ponds and Lovett are going to be a nightmare for opponents to defend on a nightly basis.

We like nightmares! Ponds and LoVett are the headliners, but Justin Simon should be able to provide much of the defense and passing that Malik Ellison did last season, but with more athleticism (and perhaps less perimeter shooting).

Will all that scoring and talent lead to more wins - and fewer bad losses? A year of experience should help.

But despite their talent, the St. John’s guards aren’t in a vacuum; Chris Mullin’s team plays in a league stacked with talented ballhandlers and perimeter shooters. Also on the list are Villanova (3), Xavier (7), Seton Hall (8) and Creighton (11). St. John’s opponent Duke also appears at number five.

The Red Storm’s excellent backcourt will have its tests all season - and will need to carry the team.

NBC also lists college basketball’s best frontcourts, where Seton Hall is at seven and Villanova appears at 17. Opponents Duke appear on the list at four while Oregon State is at 20.