There’s at least one more game to the Big East season for the Red Storm, who get to enjoy the confines of home in the Big East’s Tournament.
Of course, Madison Square Garden feels like home to quite a few other teams — Villanova and Connecticut and Seton Hall, to name three — but this home court is still more familiar to the Johnnies than to the other teams.
Familiarity still needs more points than the other team for a win. But it’s not fans that make a team win, though they help. It’s not familiarity with the floor that makes a team win, though it helps. St. John’s has to score more than the other team — or, to refine that point, needs to keep the other team from scoring as much as teams have.
The Red Storm likely need a win to keep this season going, and will face the #1 seeded Marquette tomorrow if they can pull off the upset.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (17-14, 7-13 Big East) vs Butler Bulldogs (14-17, 6-14 Big East)
When: Wednesday, March 8, 2023, 3:00 PM
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Odds: St. John’s, -6.5
Last meeting: Butler came from behind in Indiana to pull out a win in the late moments, 68-66.
The Bulldogs continue to be a team that struggles offensively across the board... but they have formed into a team that can pose a challenge defensively, and has won a number of close games.
Butler is solid at forcing turnovers, slowing down opposing lead scorers, and defending without fouling. Nationally, Thad Matta’s Butler team is eighth best in the ratio of free throws taken by opponents to their shots taken — teams have to earn it from the field, which is a help on defense.
Butler on offense can make open shots, but are not great at generating easy looks from the perimeter. Interior offense can be a slog for them as well. St. John’s will need to be diligent to keep them from easy looks or sending them to the line.
Injuries/ Missing players
Butler’s Manny Bates came back from two games out with a shoulder injury.
UPDATE: Bates and Eric Hunter are out for not meeting academic standards.
Butler forward Ali Ali missed the last game on Saturday with a concussion. No word on his availability for today’s game yet.
St. John’s has been missing Rafael Pinzon after he was suspended for a failure to meet team standards (after a pointed Instagram post about the organization of the Division I basketball teams as compared to his high school coach).
Andre Curbelo missed the last game with a concussion, after receiving an elbow to the face in practice, per his Twitter. He will miss today’s game.
Montez Mathis has been out for the season with a toe injury.
Keys to the Game
Smart defense. St. John’s will like to generate pressure, but against a team that struggles to shoot, a lower-risk defense might be ideal. Make them shoot from deep, restrict good touches, make thew Bulldogs work for their offense.
Soriano Time. Soriano was quiet in the last matchup between the two teams. He has been the player who gets the Red Storm moving, and the Johnnies have to find him early and play off the difficulties he creates for Butler.
Ball movement. In the last game, the Red Storm went stagnant late, and could not generate good opportunities for AJ Storr and Dylan Addae-Wusu to stretch the floor. Better ball movement and unselfish play will help free those players up, diversifying the Johnnies’ offense.
St. John’s knocks off Butler comfortably, 75-63.