St. John’s season has turned upside down ever since Big East play. For a team that had such optimism headed into conference action, it is hard to imagine a worse start.
As we learned the other day, the Red Storm will be without star guard Marcus LoVett for the remainder of the year. For a team with depth issues, to begin with, this is very bad.
Still, the Johnnies have a chance to get back on the right track. That begins Saturday night against the Wildcats of Villanova.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (10-7 I 0-5 Big East) versus #1 Villanova Wildcats (15-1 I 3-1 Big East)
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
When: Saturday, January 13th, 8:00 PM ET
TV: Fox Business Network; you can find the channel on your television by clicking here.
Audio: 970 AM WNYM; TuneIn Radio
Last Meeting: The Wildcats stomped on St. John’s 108-67 in the Big East Tournament.
Led by storied head coach Jay Wright, the Wildcats have a serious championship contender. Entering Saturday’s contest, Villanova already has victories against Tennessee, Gonzaga, and Xavier. Their lone loss was at Butler.
On offense, there is not much the Wildcats do not do well. According to KenPom, their effective field goal percentage is best in the country, and their adjusted offensive efficiency is second best. As a team, Villanova shoots 60% from within the arc, and 41% from three-point territory. Additionally, they very rarely turn the ball over. Arguably their biggest downfall on offense is creating second chances.
So far this season, star guard Jalen Brunson has led the team in scoring. He is averaging 19 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds per game while shooting 58% from the field. Not far behind is Mikal Bridges, who is averaging 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists per contest.
Defensively, the Wildcats have also fared very well. Villanova has pushed foes into bad three-point shots. Opponents are shooting a lousy 33% from deep. Furthermore, they have an impressive 20% turnover percentage. It is tough to score on Villanova.
Undoubtedly, coach Wright has one of the country’s best teams, if not the best. Once again they have greatly helped bring credibility to the Big East.
Keys to contest
Shoot the three: Villanova’s only loss this year was at Butler. In that matchup, the Bulldogs shot 68% from three-point land. If St. John’s is to have any chance, they must knock down their shots.
String together stops: The Red Storm do not have a good chance if they constantly rival Villanova’s potent offensive attack. St. John’s has to play tight and clean defense for significant stretches if they are to have a chance.
Play with energy: There seems to be a lot of negativity surrounding the St. John’s program right now. On Saturday night, the Red Storm have to tune out all the doubters and play passionate basketball. Hopefully, the hometown fans can give them an edge in the energy category.
Villanova whopped Xavier last time out and may have their guard down a bit. St. John’s is coming off a hapless performance against Georgetown and may come into this one fired up. This has the makings of a trap contest for Villanova.
Regardless, the Wildcats are the best team in the country. St. John’s has played their worst basketball as of late. I would still anticipate a blowout victory for Villanova.