The opportunity for an NCAA Tournament push has arrived for the St. John’s basketball team.
The St. John’s basketball season has not unfolded to this point as many would have expected but the Johnnies have a massive opportunity in front of itself.
Mike Anderson’s team steamrolled Seton Hall on the road on Monday night but things only get more difficult for the Red Storm with a trip to No. 14 Villanova (15-5, 8-2 Big East) and hosting No. 17 Providence (17-2, 7-1 Big East) next on the schedule.
However, with its first Quadrant 1 victory of the season, St. John’s (11-7, 3-4 Big East) now has a chance to build its NCAA Tournament resume and what better way to catapult itself onto the bubble than taking down the crown jewel of the Big East Conference on the road.
St. John’s seemingly got its season turned around in South Orange thanks to its pressure defense and unselfishness with the basketball as the Johnnies forced Seton Hall into 20 turnovers and assisted on 20-of-32 made field goals.
The formula has to be the same against Villanova.
It’s nearly impossible to speed up Villanova, specifically at home, as the Wildcats average just 9.3 turnovers per game, but St. John’s forced Villanova into 17 turnovers in its 70-59 upset victory in Queens a season ago and forced 15 turnovers while losing to the Wildcats in its second matchup of the year.
Making senior Collin Gillespie unconformable it a tall challenge, but Posh Alexander accomplished the mission last season as the lead guard for Villanova had one of the worst games of his career with just four points on 2-of-12 shooting, missing all eight of his 3-point attempts and turning the ball over six times.
St. John’s basketball has to get star going offensively
Julian Champagnie has been in a shooting slump of late and St. John’s needs him to snap out it in order to try all pull off these big upsets.
Champagnie was held to single digits in both Seton Hall games, the first time he has put up back to back single digit games since late January of his freshman season.
The forward is shooting 12-of-45 (26.6-percent) in his last three games and is anticipated to have a tough matchup against senior forward Jermaine Samuels.
A win would be massive for St. John’s while a loss would keep them searching for another signature victory.
Tipoff is slated for 4:30 p.m. (FoxSports1) inside Finneran Pavilion on Saturday afternoon.