St. John’s basketball begins postseason against cross-river rival

St. John's basketball (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports)
St. John's basketball (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports) /
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St. John's basketball
St. John’s basketball (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports)\ /

St. John’s basketball begins the postseason against its cross-river rival.

Postseason basketball is finally here and the St. John’s basketball team will battle a familiar foe in hopes of advancing to its first semifinals of the Big East Tournament since 2000.

The Johnnies (16-10, 10-9 Big East) will face cross-river rival Seton Hall (13-12, 10-9 Big East) as the two team have split its regular season meetings.

Seton Hall took down the Red Storm 77-68 in Newark back in mid-December, but the Johnnies responded in the regular season finale with an 81-71 victory over the Pirates on March 6.

St. John’s dug itself an 18-0 hold in Queens, only to climb out of it quickly and efficiently without the services of Big East Freshman of the Year Posh Alexander (sprained thumb).

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In his virtual press conference after winning the award, Alexander announced that he would play against the Pirates on Thursday afternoon, in what will be his first game since suffering the injury on February 23.

St. John’s has won both its games without the freshman point guard but trailed by double-digits at halftime in both games before outscoring Providence and Seton Hall by over 20 points in the second half.

Its victory over Seton Hall on Saturday night, the Red Storm snapped a three-game losing streak to the Pirates and St. John’s has not won two straight games over its cross-river rival since the 2013-14 season.

The two programs will be meeting for just the fourth time in the history of the Big East Tournament, the first time since 2002.

St. John’s basketball looking make push to NCAA Tournament

The Johnnies looked like an NCAA Tournament team after a convincing victory over Villanova followed by a road win over Providence in February before the Red Storm started skidding.

Many think two victories at Madison Square Garden would be enough for St. John’s to make the NCAA Tournament but its all starts on Thursday afternoon against Seton Hall.

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One victory for St. John’s might be enough after Xavier’s upset loss against Butler, but the team certainly doesn’t want to leave it is fate in the hands of the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

After the canceled tournament last season, a berth into the Big Dance would give the Johnnies back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time since the 1999 and 2000 tournaments.

The winner gets either Villanova or Georgetown in the semifinals on Friday night.