Predicting St. John’s basketball games in the month of December
December 3 vs. Kansas (7:00pm, FS1)
The first college basketball game at the new UBS Arena at Belmont Park will draw a lot of eyeballs as the Kansas Jayhawks make the trip to New York for the Big East vs. Big 12 Challenge.
After sub-par seasons in two of the last three years, by Kansas standards, head coach Bill Self will look to bring another Big 12 Championship back to Lawrence as well as preparing for another National Championship run for the Jayhawks.
St. John’s will see a familiar foe in guard Remy Martin who transferred to Kansas from Arizona State this offseason.
Kansas returns a trio of star players such as Ochai Agbaji, Jalen Wilson, and David McCormack while Self also brought in a Top-15 recruiting class which features Kyle Cuffe Jr., the son of former St. John’s star Kyle Cuffe Sr.
The Johnnies always seem to win a couple of high-profile home games each season and this seems to be the perfect spot for the Red Storm to pick up its first signature victory of the season.
Prediction: Win (6-1)
December 5 vs. Fordham (7:00pm, FS1)
A New York rivalry is renewed between St. John’s and Fordham and it could be one of the most important games for the season for the Johnnies.
These two programs have not met since 2016 as St. John’s holds an advantage in the all-time series, 51-11.
If the Red Storm are to defeat Kansas on Friday night it will be an emotionally exhausting game and the Johnnies only have one day off to prepare for its next game, which is a tough task for any team.
This is a key letdown spot for St. John’s and head coach Mike Anderson must have his team ready to go after the quick turnaround.
If St. John’s wants to be taken seriously as a dangerous team this season a win is mandatory in this showdown with Fordham.
Prediction: Win (7-1)
December 9 vs. Monmouth (7:00pm, FS1)
Monmouth is always a dangerous team out of the MAAC as head coach King Rice is fresh off his third MAAC Coach of the Year award.
The Hawks have yet to make an NCAA Tournament appearance under the former North Carolina point guard but Monmouth has won three MAAC regular season titles since Rice arrive at the Jersey Shore.
Also, St. John’s villain Shavar Reynolds transferred from Seton Hall to Monmouth this offseason.
St. John’s will need to show up in a major way if they want to avoid being upset against another well coached team.
Prediction: Win (8-1)
December 12 vs. Colgate (12:00pm, FS1)
Perhaps the most interesting non-conference game against a mid-major for St. John’s because how favorable Colgate was looked at among all of the NCAA Tournament metrics last season.
The Raiders have made the last two NCAA Tournaments and would have made it three straight if the 2020 season did not end due to COVID-19.
Head coach Matt Langel has worked the Colgate program into a consistent winner in the underrated Patriot League and he could be in line for a head coaching job at a power conference school with another postseason berth in Hamilton, New York.
A win against Colgate could prove to be another major metric victory for St. John’s in terms of getting back to the NCAA Tournament.
Prediction: Win (9-1)
December 18 vs. Pittsburgh (TBA, TBA)
The first game at Madison Square Garden for St. John’s does not come until the middle of December and it is the final game of the non-conference schedule.
A part of the Gotham Classic, the game lost a little bit of its luster after Justin Champagnie, the twin brother of Julian Champagnie, remained in the 2021 NBA Draft instead of returning to Pittsburgh for another season.
The Panthers, in the fourth year under Jeff Capel, are projected to be one of the bottom feeders in the ACC this season but seems to be laying a new foundation for future success.
St. John’s has a chance to get acclimated at The Garden after only playing one game in the building last year and add another power conference victory to its resume prior to starting the gauntlet of Big East play.
Prediction: Win (10-1)
December 20 vs. Seton Hall (8:30pm, FS1)
Big East Conference plays starts with a familiar foe for the Johnnies as St. John’s and Seton Hall have opened conference play against each other for third time in the last three seasons, all held in Newark.
The Pirates return star Jared Rhoden and veteran Myles Cale but will be looking to fill the void of Sandro Mamukelashvili, the Co-Big East Player of the Year last season.
However, adding Jahir Harris and Kadary Richmond will certainly help a Pirate backcourt that lost Shavar Reynolds and cannot rely on Brice Aiken due to his injury history.
Seton Hall has a lot more questions than answers entering this season and head coach Kevin Willard did not do his team any favors again this season with its non-conference schedule.
A win for either team would be a great start to conference play as the schedule only gets more daunting.
Prediction: Loss (10-2, 0-1 Big East)
December 23 vs. Butler (6:30pm, FS1)
Butler could be one of the most improved teams in the Big East after LaVall Jordan brings back every player who received substantial minutes from a season ago.
However, entering Queens to play a team looking to get its first conference win will not be an easy task for the Bulldogs despite its super-veteran roster led by guard Aaron Thompson.
St. John’s has the personnel to matchup with Butler’s roster and perhaps the Johnnies have more pure talent than the Bulldogs and that, along with the home court advantage, will propel the Red Storm to its first Big East victory of the season.
Prediction: Win (11-2, 1-1 Big East)
December 29 vs. Marquette (8:00pm, CBS Sports Network)
Shaka Smart and the new look Marquette Golden Eagles make its New York debut with a trip to Carnesecca Arena.
Marquette parted ways with Steve Wojciechowski after another disappointing end to the season and went for the splash hire with Smart, who has not had the success many visioned once he left VCU after leading the Rams to five straight NCAA Tournaments, including a Final Four appearance.
Smart will have a young roster in his first season in Milwaukee but he added Maryland transfer Darrel Morsel this offseason and he hopes to combine him with returning players Greg Elliot and Justin Lewis to lead the Marquette backcourt.
St. John’s playing at home and its experience will be too much for the Golden Eagles to overcome.
Prediction: Win (12-2, 2-1 Big East)