St. John’s basketball has back pressed against wall facing No. 8 Villanova

St. John's basketball guard Posh Alexander (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports)
St. John's basketball guard Posh Alexander (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports) /

It seems to be now or never for the St. John’s basketball team against No. 8 Villanova. 

The St. John’s basketball team has its back up against the wall.

After a soul crushing loss against DePaul on Saturday night, the Johnnies (14-9, 8-8 Big East) hopes of an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament might ride on the outcome of Tuesday night’s trip to Pennsylvania to face the No. 8 Villanova Wildcats (14-3, 9-2 Big East).

No big deal, right?

Two highly motivated teams will be taking the court as the ‘Cats will be out for revenge as the Red Storm embarrassed Jay Wright’s team in Queens on February 3 with a 70-59 loss, it’s lowest point total of the season.

Obviously for St. John’s, it will be looking to prove that Saturday’s debacle was just a misstep, although it has now lost two of its last three games to bottom tier teams in the Big East Conference, Butler and DePaul.

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Sophomore star Julian Champagnie expressed after his team fell to the Blue Demons that it now had to win against Villanova, but the Wildcats have only been swept twice in the regular season since the conference’s realignment; the 2013-14 season against Creighton and the 2016-17 season against Butler.

St. John’s is trying for its first regular season sweep of Villanova since the 1992-93 season.

Villanova star senior point guard Collin Gillespie had one of the worst games of his career against the Johnnies with four points and six turnovers on 2-of-12 shooting.

St. John’s basketball needs to get back to its defensive roots

During its six-game winning streak the Red Storm were allowing 71.5 points per game and over its last three games the Johnnies are seeing its opponents score 82.6 points per game.

Since its loss against St. John’s, Villanova is 3-1 but with mixed reviews after a shaky victory over Georgetown and beatdown by No. 19 Creighton, sandwiched with a thrashing of Marquette.

The Wildcats were able to use a strong second half to hold off a pesky UConn team on Saturday afternoon with its star James Bouknight, 68-60.

It’s hard to see Villanova getting swept by St. John’s, primarily because it just doesn’t happen too often, but the Johnnies seem to play better when things are stacked against them.

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After a 1-5 start to conference play, the Red Storm won eight of ten games to put itself in the NCAA Tournament picture before its back-breaking loss against DePaul but this time too much will not be in its favor to overcome.

Collin Gillespie will play much better, Villanova is at home, and the whistle will favor the Wildcats.

St. John’s will play its heart out but ultimately fall short, leaving two scheduled regular season games and the Big East Tournament as all that would be left for the Johnnies to make a run at the Big Dance.

Tipoff is scheduled for 8:00pm EST (CBS Sports Network) from the Finneran Pavilion.

PREDICTION: No. 8 Villanova 78, St. John’s 69