St. John's @ Seton Hall, 7EST
Location: Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey
Opening Line: St. John's -2.5 (SHU 11-14 ATS)
Radio: WSOU 89.5 FM
Twitter: @SOrangeJuice @JPGuerette @JohnLopiano @The_Bracket_Man
Seton Hall Pirates, Big East, Record: 11-17 (5-11), KenPom: 65, RPI: 100, SOS: 9
The Pirates are coming off yet another disappointing, flirtatious defeat. The Hall played neck and neck with one of the top teams in the nation, on their court, and then reverted back to their old form down the stretch.
With Rutgers' win over DePaul last night, the intrastate rivals are locked into the 12 v 13 match-up in the first round of the Big East Tournament next Tuesday at 2:30PM. That being said, I don't expect the Pirates to let up during these last two home games. The Johnnies have shocked the college basketball world this season and are still cross-river rivals of Seton Hall. Lets discuss what to expect tonight:
What to Look for Tonight:
- Jordan Theodore will be a stud or a dud. Following the sketchy publication of there being "probable cause" that Jordan Theodore was in the possession of a hand gun following the Villanova game on February 15th, how will the point guard respond? The "news" laid dormant for weeks due to inconclusive evidence, but was broken yesterday. I don't expect Theodore to be benched, suspended or punished by the school for one major reason: if Theodore were truly guilty, don't you think he would have been suspended by now based on the fact that Jamel Jackson and Keon Lawrence were kicked off the team for much lesser infractions? Kevin Willard has had a no-BS attitude from Day 1, I'm trusting his judgement here. Expect the legal issues to be cleared from Theodore's name in due time without any repercussions issued from the school or coaching staff.
- Toughness. St. John's rolls deep. Head coach Steve Lavin plays eight players for ~15+ minutes per game. The Pirates will need to stay out of foul trouble and try to match the eroding affect that the deep, experienced rotation that they will be matched up against.
- An unexpected player will step up tonight. If Seton Hall expects to resist St. John's depth, there has to be an unsung hero. Will it be Eniel Polynice? Patrik Auda? Aaron Geramipoor? Who is going to step up and contribute those bonus points, rebounds and assists for the Pirates?
St. John's Red Storm, Big East, Record: 19-9 (11-5), KenPom: 31, RPI: 15, SOS: 3
Where do I start? Steve Lavin has done a phenomenal job of turning an underachieving St. John's team into a legit Top 20 team, seemingly overnight. The Red Storm haven't lost a Big East game in over a month (7-0), have won 8 of their last 9, including 6 straight. On top of that, St. John's are looking to lock up a double bye in the Big East tournament if they beat Seton Hall and South Florida to close out their season. They certainly have something to play for.
Its funny to look back to December 11th, St. John's was sitting at 5-3 with losses to St. Bonaventure and Fordham. Take that Rick Pitino (predicted St. John's to win Big East)! Fast forward to today and the people poking fun at the school from Queens are nowhere to be seen. Head coach Steve Lavin has his team vying for a #4 or better seed in the NCAA Tournament while having a monster recruiting class locked up for next season. What else is there to say?
JP Guerette will tell you what else there is to say in his Scouting Report.
KenPom Prediction: St. John's 65, Seton Hall 64
The Pirates have dropped their last three games, falling most recently at #9 Notre Dame, 60-48, in a defensive battle on Saturday. Jeff Robinson scored a team-high 16 points. Jeremy Hazell scored 14 points, and in doing so, moved into third place on Seton Hall's all-time scoring list with 2,067 career points. The 6-foot-5 senior leads four players averaging in double-figures for the Pirates with 18.5 points per game. This will be the 87th meeting between Seton Hall and St. John's.
St. John's basketball is just rolling right now. With a number of days off since the Villanova road victory, and doing interviews all over the place to satisfy the interest of NYC hoops fans, the Red Storm have that swag popping. They're feeling good about themselves, getting ready for the Big East Tournament.
St. John's has to get these two winnable games salted away to get the coveted double-bye in the Big East Tournament, giving them two more days to rest and practice.