St. John's (10-1), ranked #17 by the AP and #19 by the Coaches' poll, take on the Tulane Green Wave (9-2) tomorrow at noon in Brooklyn's Barclays Center as part of the Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival - along with LIU, Hofstra, Fairfield and Loyola of Maryland.
The game will be the last game before conference play begins against Seton Hall in Newark, though the Red Storm still have the Duke Blue Devils to face in January. The Johnnies face a Tulane team that is eager for a validating win after a non-conference schedule whose strength is that of an overcooked spaghetti noodle.
Like St. John's, the Green Wave have three guards averaging over ten points per game, but the Wave are younger than the Red Storm, especially in the paint. This is a game St. John's should handle - but Tulane was competitive for stretches, especially early on, against the #13 ranked University of Washington, an emergent team also powered by defense.
So the Johnnies should be wary. Early confidence for opponents can lead to disappointing outcomes for the Red Storm.
"We will need to show maturity as competitors to come back and be ready to compete against St. John's," Tulane head coach Ed Conroy said. "St. John's is a very talented team and a very well coached team. If we show the toughness we showed against Washington, we will be ready for the challenge."
How to watch online + radio
Fox Sports 1 has the broadcast. The game can be seen live-only on Fox Sports 1's app/ online and on Fox Sports 1. Joe Davis and Donny Marshall will announce the game.
For those listening on the radio, 970 AM WNYM will have the call with John Minko and Brandon Tierney.
St. John's are 12-point favorites against Tulane in Brooklyn.
St. John's energy vs Tulane's ability to adapt. St. John's could come into the game overconfident. After all, Tulane's small, quick guards want to get in the paint and draw fouls, which seems like a bad idea against St. John's. If that doesn't work, with the trio of Jay Hook (12.0 ppg, 40% on three-pointers), Louis Dabney (12.5 ppg, 4.4 free throw attempts per game) and Jonathan Stark (11.3 ppg, 2.6 apg, 51% on twos) attacking the basket, where will Green Wave go?
What if they find themselves strong x-factor performances, though, on the interior with young forwards Payton Henson and Dylan Osetkowski?
What if St. John's comes out loose and sloppy, and those guards CAN get to the basket?
St. John's, on days when opponents come at them hard, need to be careful - the depth in the paint is unproven for the Red Storm, and despite the lofty ranking, the team always needs to bring their A-game, even in an early start just before conference play.
- St. John's has played Tulane twice and lost - in Hawai'i in 2007 Rainbow Classic [which we have in the Rumble's wayback machine, in short form. Here's a longer recap, written by the victors] and in 1992's NCAA Tournament.
- Tulane is playing a game at the Barclays Center for the third straight year.
- Tulane has not defeated a ranked opponent since defeating No. 25 N.C. State, 73-62, on December 22, 1999.
Keys to the Game
Own inside the arc. Against the Washington Huskies, Jonathan Stark and Louis Dabney combined for 2/17 inside the arc against Robert Upshaw, a player who is currently blocking a higher percentage of shots than Chris Obekpa. St. John's should be able to do the same, while watching for tough emerging big man Dylan Osetkowski (6'9", 255), who played well against the Pac-12 frontcourt.
Cover the outside shooters. It's hard to imagine Tulane won't try to play its game, where they shoot less than 32% of their shots from outside the arc and try to draw fouls. But part of that game also involves kicking out to three point shooters... or in this case, shooter. Here's a graphic showing who that shooter is. (PSST! It's Jay Hook!)
Wake up early. The Red Storm need to take the game seriously. This is a team whose offensive droughts (or just middling offense) has left them struggling to get over Long Beach State, Franklin Pierce... and even getting a scare from Niagara.
St. John's takes care of business. Win, 69-57.
What's your score prediction?