So… are we like on the bubble now?
Following the 75-73 win at Marquette on Sunday, St. John’s has now pulled off four straight wins, and jumping teams in the Big East standings at an alarming pace. This sparked up some Twitter chatter about possible tournament hopes.
Now I don’t wanna sound like that guy who gets unnecessarily hyped after a win, because believe me, you know damn well that St. John’s could beat a high school varsity team and fans on Twitter would be like: “Huge win! This is the turning point! What do you think we need to do now to make the tournament?”
That said, I’m just gonna go out on a limb and say it:
I do think we’re going to make the tournament.
But before we get into that, I wanna dive into the actual Marquette game because it was a fun one.
St. John’s travelled to Milwaukee on Sunday to take on Marquette after their originally scheduled game vs UConn was postponed. (Seriously UConn, you guys gotta do better. That’s like your 15th Covid pause)
This game was huge for the Red Storm, who was seeking revenge from the last time the two teams met — which actually happens to be the last time the Johnnies have lost. As for Marquette, well, similar situation but flipped. Their last victory was against SJU, and have since been coming off two straight losses to DePaul and Providence.
Yes you read that right. Marquette lost to DePaul. At home. By seven. Haha couldn’t be us. Bums.
And with Georgetown holding serve at home against Providence on Saturday, a win for St. John’s would see them tied with the Friars for 6th place in the conference.
The Johnnies came out of the gates firing. The shots were falling. All was well.
Vince Cole, who started in place for the injured Greg Williams, was banging threes from deep and finished with ten points. His game has translated from JUCO to the Big East very nicely, similar to the likes of LJ Figueroa. The Red Storm started the game 6-9 from behind the arc, and at one point even pulled off a 28-8 run.
Marquette couldn’t get shit going. All momentum was leaning the right way. To close the half, Julian Champagnie drilled a three and just seconds later Posh Alexander got a steal and the and-one. Just like that, St. John’s had taken a 15-point lead into the locker room.
…And in classic fashion, St. John’s came out the second half flat and blew the lead in like 5 minutes. And that’s not an exaggeration. It took literally 5 minutes and 13 seconds to piss the lead away. You couldn’t write a more predictable script.
The rest of the game was pretty much St. John’s going on like a 6-0 run, Marquette cutting it to like two, and SJU trying to pull away again. Kudos to team for never allowing the Golden Eagles to grab the lead.
Rasheem Dunn played really well offensively to combat the constant runs by MU and while at first I was skeptical with the coaching decision to go combo and have Dunn and Posh start at the same time, the two play styles prove to compliment each other nicely.
As for Posh, he will probably go down as one of my favorite St. John’s players ever when all is said and done. You can’t not love his game. He had a clutch steal with around a minute and a half in which he stripped DJ Carton and finished at the rack.
The play of the game though came with around 45 seconds left: Dylan Addae-Wusu drove hard in the paint and finished with an acrobatic bucket. (Still shocked how that wasn’t also a foul, but whatever.)
A series of confusing and stressful events ensued, but to make a long story short, St. John’s managed to hang on for the 2-point victory by the grit of their teeth and everybody lived happily ever after.
Now, to the juicy stuff. You may be asking, “Barstool, what does this mean for St. John’s NCAA Tournament hopes?”
I have seen a lot on Twitter over the past few hours debating this topic. The timeline took a few hours to cool down. But honestly right now, I just want to enjoy the ride.
Backtrack for a minute: on January 9th, St. John’s lost to Creighton by 18 points and dropped to 1-5 in the Big East. We were tied with Georgetown for last place. The fact we’ve made it this far and are now ONE game out of a first-round bye in the conference tournament, is an incredible feat. I’m just happy we can play meaningful basketball in February.
Now, let’s speculate: At 11-7 overall and 5-6 in the conference, the Johnnies have a very interesting resume. We have road wins against #23 UConn and a Marquette squad who has beaten #4 Wisconsin and #9 Creighton. Our worst two losses are against BYU, who is projected to get an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament, and then on the road against Georgetown in OT.
For SJU, if you can improve your resume with some better wins, and your worst loss all year remains an overtime defeat on the road against Georgetown, I don’t see how the selection committee can keep you out.
A source close to us also spoke with John Fanta, who believes the Johnnies can still afford getting swept by Nova, if they can make up for that by going 6-3 or 5-4 down the stretch.
We are NOT in the tournament yet by any means. Still a ways off. And frankly, I think we are just grazing the surface of being on the bubble. There is A LOT of work that still needs to be done. But what I can say is that I am confident about the schedule. If we take advantage of what is in front of us and play it one game at a time, we will get in.
The reason I am so keen about racking up these wins is because of the uncertainty of the status of the Big East Tournament. Will it get played? Will it not? If there’s no Big East Tournament, thats one less path St. John’s will be able to take advantage of. Nonetheless, the Johnnies have a favorable 9 remaining regular season games:
- vs. Villanova
- @ Providence
- @ Butler
- vs. Xavier
- vs. DePaul (rescheduled game)
- @ Villanova
- Seton Hall
- vs. UConn (rescheduled game)
I say take care of business and the basketball gods will be in our favor. You don’t want to see us get hot. I’m feeling good. Way better than I probably should, but then again who would have thought that we’d miraculously pump life back into our once dead season.
Come back to me in a week or two when I’ll either want to delete this blog or I’ll want to collect my thanks from all of you for seeing the future.
For now, St. John’s is back.
$SJU to the moon. 🚀