St. John’s basketball prepares for important week to close season

St. John's basketball forward Marcellus Earlington (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
St. John's basketball forward Marcellus Earlington (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

St. John’s basketball is set to begin final week of regular season. 

The final week of the 2020-21 college basketball season is already here and the St. John’s basketball team is looking to enter the postseason with positive momentum.

St. John’s (14-10, 8-9 Big East) seemed to have all the positive momentum in the world until a blown 16-point lead against Butler, home loss against Big East basement dweller DePaul, and a drubbing against No. 8 Villanova.

A home victory over Xavier was sandwiched in between losses against the Bulldogs and Blue Demons but those two specific defeats severely hurt the Red Storm’s chances at earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

However, while the Big Dance might be a long shot for the Johnnies, if St. John’s wants any hope of potentially making the NCAA Tournament without winning the Big East Tournament, two wins to close the regular season are imperative, and that begins with Providence (12-11, 8-9 Big East) on Wednesday night.

St. John’s defeated the Friars in Rhode Island in early February, 92-81, behind a hot shooting start and strong close from key reserve players.

One of the key forces in the Johnnies’ victory was the 21 points from freshman guard Posh Alexander but the Brooklyn, New York native is questionable with a sprained right thumb which he suffered against Villanova.

It’s not a requirement for Alexander to practice in order to play in Wednesday’s game as he missed practice after suffering a back injury in a home loss against Marquette but did not miss any games and put together an 18-point showing in an upset win over UConn one day later.

Posh Alexander is one of the toughest players on the St. John’s roster and will do everything in his power to be on the floor against Providence.

St. John’s basketball has its work cut out

In its first victory over the Friars, the Johnnies did a relatively good job in defending star guard David Duke who posted nine points, six rebounds, and seven assists on 3-of-8 shooting from the field, but St. John’s had no answer inside for Nate Watson.

Watson went for 30 points and eight rebounds on 13-of-20 shooting from the floor.

St. John’s just doesn’t have anyone to matchup with Nate Watson in the paint and it’ll be interesting if head coach Mike Anderson tries to implement a two-big rotation with Josh Roberts and Isaih Moore to try and neutralize the Providence center.

Noah Horchler also torched the Red Storm for a season-high 19 points, which was just broken in Providence’s  last outing against Xavier as the transfer scored 20 points in the victory.

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Providence is playing much better basketball of late, as Ed Cooley coached teams do into March, winning three of its last four games and St. John’s has dropped three of its last four.

Both teams need victories to either enhance its NCAA Tournament or NIT resumes and it will be a tough, physical battle all night long.

Posh Alexander’s thumb might be the difference in this one. If he plays, St. John’s should win. If he doesn’t play, Providence should win.

Educated guess says he will try and give it a go but no one will know for sure until tipoff at 7:00pm EST (CBS Sports Network) inside Carnesecca Arena.

PREDICTION: St. John’s 75, Providence 68