After St. John’s shocked Duke and Villanova over the last week, what are their chances of at least playing some form of postseason basketball?
For St. John’s fans, the 2017-18 season has been a roller coaster of emotions, to say the least. After going 10-2 in non-conference play, the Red Storm lost 10 games in a row and 11 straight Big East games. The season looked lost up until last weekend, then Chris Mullin’s squad gave everybody something to remember.
On Saturday, the Red Storm stunned fourth-ranked Duke with an 81-77 win at Madison Square Garden. Four days later, the team did what appeared to be unthinkable and knocked off number one Villanova at the Wells Fargo Center, 79-75.
Yes, St. John’s is nowhere near getting an NCAA Tournament berth without the automatic bid in the Big East conference tournament in March due to their 12-13 record. With that being said, there is still a small chance that the NIT could be in the cards if the automatic bid doesn’t happen.
Since Steve Lavin became the head coach in 2010-11, St. John’s has made the NIT twice. In 2012-13, the Red Storm got to play in the postseason despite having 16 losses. If we go off of that precedent, that gives the Red Storm some wiggle room with six games left on the schedule.
If you take a closer look at those six games, none of them come against a team that is ranked in the current AP Top 25. They have two games against Marquette, road games against DePaul and Providence, and home matchups with Seton Hall (MSG) and Butler (Carnesecca Arena).
According to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index (BPI), the Red Storm have at least a 40 percent chance to win four of their final six games. The two games where there is less than a 40 percent chance for a win is at Marquette February 21 (21.2 percent) and March 3 at Providence (30.1).
Marquette is the next opponent up for the Red Storm this Saturday and they just snapped a four-game losing streak Wednesday night when they completed the season sweep of Seton Hall. While the Golden Eagles can score with anybody in the Big East (80.8 points per game in conference), they’ve also allowed more points than anyone (82).
When you look at this season, it’s been a matter of what-ifs for the Red Storm. Out of the 12 Big East games that they’ve played, nine of them were decided by seven points or less. The ‘Nova upset on Wednesday was the only win out of those games.
Of course, don’t rule out St. John’s’ chances of making a run in the Big East Tournament if they stay healthy. They have given Villanova and Xavier fits because of their defense and Shamorie Ponds just averaged 30 points per game against three top 10 opponents. He is starting to drive to the basket more often and that is a great sign for this Red Storm offense going forward should they get a chance to play those teams again.
#SJUBB just closed out its fourth stretch in program history facing three-straight top 10 opponents. Here are the leading scorers from each.
1968-69: John Warren, 16.7 ppg
2005-06: Lamont Hamilton, 15.0 ppg
2008-09: D.J. Kennedy, 16.7 ppg
2017-18: Shamorie Ponds, 30.0 ppg pic.twitter.com/9pcZhN7J12
— St. John's BBall (@StJohnsBBall) February 8, 2018
If the Red Storm were to make it to the NIT, it would allow them to get more practice time and play in more games to get ready for next year. As of right now, only Bashir Ahmed and Amar Alibegovic are the two seniors on the team. But, their chances of that could be small depending on how many mid-major regular season conference winners lose their respective tournaments.
After two monumental wins, it is important to keep the bar high for the Red Storm. At the same time, don’t expect an NCAA Tournament appearance. However, one great month of February can change a failure of a season into a postseason berth where the players can keep the run going.