I didn't have very high expectations for the St. John's Red Storm going into this season, placing them ninth when predicting the final Big East conference standings. But they have successfully proved me wrong, with a crucial six game win stretch to throw them into tournament talks. All those wins highlighted by an upset of the #3 (at the time) Villanova Wildcats.
The Red Storm over this six game stretch have averaged 81.3 points and 71.5 opponent points. This is a clear improvement from their first 14 contests, where they averaged 79.0 points and 78.5 opponent points. Their FG% over this stretch is .477, and their 3P% is .409%. Which is also an improvement from their first 14 games, where they had a .447 FG% and .340 3P%.
St John's competition hasn't gotten easier either, with games against UConn, Marquette, Providence, and Villanova all in the W column. Compared to earlier on in the season when they were playing Rider and La Selle. Their strength of schedule overall ranks 58th of 347 eligible programs, with a 106.1 ORtg and 101.7 DRtg which is good for 98th and 229th of 347 eligible programs.
They are led by Julian Champagnie, the 6'8 sophomore from Brooklyn, New York. He took a big step up this year, putting up almost 20 a night with about 7 boards to go along with it. His double-double performance against Villanova really helped them take advantage of the Wildcats. The guard Posh Alexander averages 11.8 pts, 4.5 ast on a 48% FG%. He was just named USBWA National Freshman of the Week, after putting up 16 pts, 6 ast and 3 stl in their key win over Nova. He averaged 18.5 points on 53.6 shooting percentage during the week.
St. John's does have a few flaws in their overall resume, with only a 7-6 Big East record and a few embarrassing losses to Creighton. They beat a UConn team without James Bouknight, and during this streak beat two not great teams in DePaul and Utah Valley. But, the team is improving and starting to mesh together at the right time. Andy Katz' latest team of the week definitely should be given credit for their victories.
Now where do the Red Storm go from here? Now quite frankly I only see it going up for St. John's. I predict they win four out of their remainder six games, losing to Villanova and Seton Hall. That would put them at 17-9 (11-8 in the Big East). Basing off previous Big East conference finishes, I project them to be the 4 seed in the Big East. I definitely think this team can win the Big East tournament, but I feel that they will be eliminated fairly later on in the bracket. I do think this is a tournament team that will be competing in Indy. They won't be an easy game either, as they can play tough defense and have been improving on the offensive side of the ball. I see this team upsetting their first round matchup, but losing in the second round.
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