After the release of the NIT’s selection, it turns out St. John’s will not play in the NIT. Last year’s team turned down an NIT bid, but this year, struggles all season kept the Red Storm out of the Tournament — one which finishes in New York City at Madison Square Garden.
A strong NIT field with multiple 20-win teams from major conferences was too much to overcome for St. John’s, who likely finish the season with a 17-15 record.
There is always a chance that the Red Storm chooses to play in one of the other tournaments for experience (the CBI, the CIT), but their shot to play in one of the two major tourneys is over.
St. John’s last made the NCAA Tournament in 2019, in the play-in game. St. John’s last reached the main 64-team draw as a 9-seed in 2015, but lost an uncompetitive contest. last played in the NIT in 2014, where they fell to Robert Morris in an uncompetitive contest. The Red Storm last won a game in the NCAA Tournament in 2000.
The Red Storm struggled against a weak non-conference schedule — that could have made a difference with some wins over decent opponents. It is hard to know whether St. John’s, which clearly needed to figure out how to play with each other after seven departures in the offseason, would have won against more foes as challenging as the likes of Colgate or Monmouth, but those games would have put them in a better position for postseason play.
Faced with opportunities in conference play, St. John’s beat only one Big East team that made the field, Seton Hall. The rest of the team’s wins were two over Georgetown, two over Xavier, two over Butler, and two over DePaul (with one loss).
Six Big East teams made the NCAA field: Seton Hall (8-seed), Marquette (9-seed), Creighton (9-seed), Connecticut (5-seed), Villanova (2-seed) and Providence (4-seed). Xavier made the NIT as a 2-seed. For what it’s worth, Xavier was ranked just one spot higher than St. John’s in the season-ending KenPom rankings, which are a factor in the seeding.
With opportunities missed, we turn our eyes to understanding the season, but also to the future. News reports claim that head coach Mike Anderson is “linked” to the newly-open Tulsa Hurricanes job after former coach Frank Haith resigned.
Whether “linked” means that the powers-that-make-decisions at Tulse (or a wealthy booster) would love to see Mike Anderson back at the school where he made his name as a player and assistant coach, or whether Mike Anderson has actual interest in the idea of returning to Oklahoma and coaching in the AAC is still to be seen.
(Let it be said that while some may think the team has underachieved, seeing a coach go from St. John’s to Tulsa does not put the best shine on the program.)