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St. John’s vs Villanova: preview, recap of the first matchup, and prediction

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St. John’s takes on a tough Villanova team in a rematch at the Garden.

Wendell Cruz-USA Today Sports

St. John’s looks to win their third straight game tomorrow night when they host the Villanova Wildcats at MSG. The Johnnies are fresh off a couple of road wins, and look to avenge their 11 point loss to Villanova last Saturday.

Villanova comes into the matchup at second in conference standings, recently beating a ranked UConn team at home but losing to a ranked Marquette team on the road. The status of Villanova’s two leading scorers, Collin Gillespie and Justin Moore, is up in the air for tomorrow’s matchup, as they are both dealing with ankle injuries.

The Red Storm had a busy week last week, playing four games in eight days. They took a tough loss to Villanova on the road and lost a close one to Providence at home, but in their two recent matchups have earned road wins against Georgetown and Butler. The Johnnies also could be without their star guard, as Posh Alexander suffered an ankle injury against Butler that caused him to sit for the final minutes of that game.

The matchup tomorrow will be the first of two ranked opponents the Johnnies are hosting this week, as UConn will come to Madison Square Garden on Saturday. The Johnnies have a good opportunity this week to prove their worth with some big home wins.

Game Information

Who: St. John’s Red Storm (13-9, 5-6 Big East) vs Villanova Wildcats (17-6, 10-3 Big East)

When: Tuesday, February 8, 2022, 8:30 PM

Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York

TV: FS1

Odds: Villanova -4

Last matchup: Villanova stayed ahead all game and won 73-62.

Recapping the First Matchup

A little over a week ago on Saturday, January 29, Villanova beat St. John’s in one of the worst offensive performances of the year for the Johnnies.

Villanova shut down the Red Storm in the first half. The Johnnies started off well, scoring the first seven points of the game; but they could not close out the first half, allowing the Wildcats to finish the half raining threes in a 20-3 run and a 40-26 lead. The Johnnies stuck with Villanova in the second half, but were unable to make a big dent in the lead and lost by 11. As a team, St. John’s shot the ball very poorly, going 4-21 from deep and 8-17 from the line, while Villanova shot the ball very well going 11-23 from beyond the arc and 20-24 from the stripe.

Individually, the Johnnies received a solid offensive performance from Montez Mathis, who led the team with 14 points on 6-10 from the field. Other than him, no Red Storm player had a great offensive game, with Julian Champagnie, Posh Alexander, and Dylan Addae-Wusu all severely underperforming.

For the Wildcats, Collin Gillespie led in scoring with 17 points, while starting big Eric Dixon scored 15 and grabbed seven rebounds. Guard Caleb Daniels provided a spark off the bench, scoring 15 points and coming down with five rebounds.

Villanova Since the First Matchup

To see Villanova’s full scouting report, check out our first preview.

Since beating St. John’s the Wildcats have lost to Marquette on the road and beaten UConn at home. In the loss to Marquette, Villanova was at full strength, and did not play a good defensive game, allowing the Golden Eagles to score 83 points with efficiency (64% shooting inside the arc, 42% shooting from outside). great percentages from the field and from deep. Villanova was outrebounded 33-23, and only made 10 of their 34 three point attempts.

Against UConn, the Wildcats were without Justin Moore, and did not get a full game out of Collin Gillespie. They still managed to beat the Huskies by 11, as both teams played well offensively but the Cats came out with an 85-74 win. Two big reasons for this were a 24 point and 12 rebound performance from Eric Dixon, and Villanova’s 21-22 performance from the free throw line.

The big story for Villanova tomorrow will be the health of their star guards, as Collin Gillespie and Justin Moore are both gametime decisions for the matchup.

Both of them would be very important for Villanova, as they are the teams’ two leading scorers and best options against the Red Storm’s aggressive backcourt defense.

St. John’s Since the First Matchup

Since losing to Villanova, the Johnnies lost a close one at home against Providence and beat Georgetown and Butler on the road. Against Providence, the Johnnies played well offensively and received a career night from Posh Alexander, who had 29 points and 12 assists, but could not contain the Friars defensively and lost 86-82.

The Johnnies played well against Georgetown, winning 90-77 led by a 27 point performance from Julian Champagnie, who broke out of his shooting slump with six threes. Champagnie again led the team in scoring in St. John’s 75-72 win at Butler, although he did not score once from deep. Champagnie instead accumulated his 21 points off inside looks and free throws.

Another good scoring performance out of Champagnie will be something to watch for, as he is still searching for the groove he had earlier in the season. Another player to watch out for is Joel Soriano, who has gone 12-12 from the field in his last two games, scoring 14 and 12 points, respectively.

Like Collin Gillespie and Justin Moore, Posh Alexander’s ankle injury will cause him to be a gametime decision. He is a player the Johnnies could really use, although if he plays he might not be at full strength and could lose some of the explosiveness we normally see out of him.

Keys to the Game

Backcourt pressure. No matter which guards are playing for either side, aggressive backcourt defense could really help St. John’s to slow down a very good Villanova offense and get transition looks.

Prevent threes. The Wildcats win games when they shoot the ball well from deep, and this is something Mike Anderson and the Red Storm need to limit, preventing Nova from getting good looks from outside.

Make free throws. Free throws proved to be crucial for the Johnnies against Butler, as a big part of their win came from going 21-25 from the stripe. After St. John’s shot very poorly from the line in the first matchup against Villanova, who is the best free throw shooting team in the country, the Red Storm need a good game at the line and cannot afford to give up free points.

Prediction

St. John’s is able to make adjustments from the first matchup and pull of a 78-75 upset.