St. John’s basketball is preparing for the biggest game of its season.
When the St. John’s basketball team takes the floor against the DePaul Blue Demons (3-10, 1-10 Big East) on Saturday night inside Carnesecca Arena it will be the biggest game of the season for the Johnnies (14-8, 8-7 Big East).
No, it will not be the biggest game of the year because its the next game on the schedule as head coach Mike Anderson likes to say, rather it will be the most important game because the Red Storm have the most to lose in regards to its at-large bid hopes for the NCAA Tournament.
St. John’s is really in a no-win position against lowly DePaul.
As a double-digit favorite, many expect the streaking Johnnies to throttle DePaul, as it should. But a win does very little in moving the needle towards March Madness, unless chaos ensues with other bubble teams over the weekend.
However, a loss would be catastrophic in its hopes of an NCAA Tournament berth for Mike Anderson’s team.
Saturday will mark the second time this season that DePaul has come to Carnesecca Arena as the first scheduled meeting between the two program was postponed due to a false positive COVID-19 test within the Red Storm’s program.
St. John’s toppled the Blue Demons when the two teams finally took the court in Chicago, 81-68.
DePaul had the services of Preseason First Team All-Big East selection Charlie Moore and fellow backcourt mate Javon Freeman-Liberty in the first meeting, combining for 37 points, but both players could be out against the Johnnies for its second matchup.
Moore (knee) has missed the last two games for the Blue Demons while Freeman-Liberty (shoulder) did not play against Seton Hall on Tuesday night.
If the two leading scorers for head coach Dave Leitao are unable to play against St. John’s, he will rely on Romeo Weems and Paulie Paulicap, who average 7.8 and 7.1 points per game, respectively.
Paulicap posted 16 points and 16 rebounds against the Red Storm in the first meeting between the teams.
St. John’s basketball must remain focused
As DePaul enters with a lousy record and St. John’s hearing the NCAA Tournament chatter, Saturday lines up as a trap game for the Johnnies, especially with another matchup against No. 10 Villanova looming on Tuesday.
The Blue Demons have posted a combined 99 points over its last two games. It lost to Providence while surrendering 57 points and fell to Seton Hall allowing just 60 points. If either the Friars or Pirates played any other team in the Big East Conference, it would have lost.
The Red Storm have seen contributions all over its roster since its midseason turnaround and will continue to do so in its second regular season sweep of an opponent this year.
Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30pm EST (Fox Sports 1)
PREDICTION: St. John’s 84, DePaul 63