St. John’s will play their second straight road game tomorrow when they travel to Finneran Pavilion to take on the 14th ranked Villanova Wildcats. The Red Storm are coming off a dominant road win on Monday at Seton Hall, where they played a full game of good basketball against a team who had just beaten them.
Villanova is a good team, but have been a little underwhelming this season, coming into the matchup with five losses. They’ve played their past four games at home, beating Butler, Georgetown, and DePaul but losing to Marquette.
The Johnnies probably played their best game of the season against the Pirates on Monday, and need to play the way they did in order to take down the Wildcats. Even with a five point performance from Julian Champagnie, the Johnnies found other ways to score, and had a 40 minute defensive effort that caused Seton Hall to shoot 30.6% from the floor.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (11-7, 3-4 Big East) vs Villanova Wildcats (15-5, 8-2 Big East)
When: Saturday, January 29, 2022, 4:30 PM
Where: Finneran Pavilion, Villanova, PA
Odds: Villanova, -11.5
Last season: The teams split the matchup both winning at home, and the Johnnies win against Villanova, who were ranked #3 at the time, was their biggest win of the season.
The Wildcats are coached by Jay Wright, who has won two national championships and is in his 21st season as head coach. They are ranked 14th in the AP Poll, 5th in KenPom, and 5th in the NET rankings, while the Johnnies currently line up at 85th in KenPom and 91st in the NET.
Villanova is very strong defensively, only allowing 60.0 points a game and forcing their opponents to shoot below 40% from the field. One big thing that jumps off the page offensively for them is their 82.3% team free throw percentage, which is the best in the country. They are also top 10 in the country in terms of turning the ball over, as they average 9.3 turnovers a game.
The Wildcats have used the same starting lineup in 19 out of 20 games this year, and the group they use have a lot of Villanova experience. All five of their starters have only played Division I games for Villanova, and have played a combined 481 games for Nova.
Villanova’s best player is last year’s co-Big East Player of the Year Collin Gillespie. The 6-3 point guard in his fifth season with the Cats is averaging 17.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.3 steals. He is shooting the ball very well this year, with a field goal percentage of 45.7% and a three point percentage of 42.6% on 3.3 made threes per contest.
Paired with Gillespie in the backcourt is 6-4 junior Justin Moore, who averages 15.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.2 steals while making 2.3 threes a game at a 39.0% rate.
Villanova’s leading scorer at the forward position is 6-7 Jermaine Samuels who, like Gillespie, is in his fifth season with the Cats, where he is averaging 10.5 points and 6.5 rebounds. Samuels is joined in the frontcourt by another 6-7 forward, senior Brandon Slater, who averages 8.3 points and 3.6 rebounds.
Nova’s least experienced starter is their big man, 6-8 255 lb sophomore Eric Dixon, who averages 9.1 points and 6.5 rebounds while shooting 49.3% from the floor.
The Wildcats do not see much production off the bench, with only one sub averaging more than 15 minutes and 3 points. That player is 6-4 senior Caleb Daniels, who is in his second season with Nova after playing his first two years at Tulane. Daniels averages 23.5 minutes a game, where he puts up 8.8 points and 3.4 rebounds.
In terms of other players who could see some action off the bench for Villanova, one is 6-5 junior guard Bryan Antoine, who has appeared in nine games this season and averaged 14.7 minutes. 6-5 junior Chris Arcidiacono and 6-5 freshman Jordan Longino have appeared in 18 and 15 games respectively, and both average 1.3 points.
Keys to the Game
Control the glass. In their loss to Seton Hall, the Johnnies lost the rebounding battle 54-38, but in their win outrebounded the Hall 48-40. Villanova is not that big of a team and is not that strong in the rebounding department, so the Red Storm need to look for an advantage where they can get one and dominate on the boards.
Stay out of foul trouble. Due to their aggressive defensive style, the Johnnies sometimes find themselves in foul trouble, and this is something they should look to avoid against the best foul shooting team in the nation.
A good game from Julian Champagnie. St. John’s needs Champagnie to be a threat again, as he has had a bad last three games offensively. While they won despite his five point performance against Seton Hall, they cannot continue success without opposing team’s defenses having to worry about their best player.
St. John’s is overmatched despite a strong effort. Collin Gillespie remembers the picture above and brings his A+ game, St. John’s loses 73-62.