St. John’s, Rutgers, and Seton Hall are all on the bubble for the 2022 NCAA Tournament according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi.
College basketball in the New York/New Jersey area is in a good spot. Three of the biggest schools in the area — Rutgers, Seton Hall, and St. John’s — are entering the season with significant expectations.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi is putting all three schools in the mix to snag a spot in the Big Dance. Rutgers and Seton Hall are two of the “Last Four In” while St. John’s is one of the “First Four Out.”
Let’s take a look at all the bubble teams, according to Lunardi:
Last Four Byes
Last Four In
First Four Out
Next Four Out
Back on the Bubble
Obviously, picking the NCAA Tournament field this far in advance is like throwing a dart at a dartboard in complete darkness. So much can change between now and the start of the college hoops season, let alone between now and the NCAA Tournament.
But for what it’s worth, Lundardi’s projections for Rutgers, Seton Hall, and St. John’s make sense.
First and foremost, Rutgers is playing in the loaded Big Ten. Even though Rutgers is bringing back both Geo Baker and Ron Harper Jr. after flirtations with the NBA, a ton of schools are keeping guys with the extra COVID year. The Big Ten might be the deepest conference in all of college hoops.
With all that said, Rutgers made the field of 68 last year and advanced to the second round before losing to Final Four-bound Houston. The Scarlet Knights have been on an upward trend since Steve Pikiell took over as head coach.
As for the Pirates, they are trying to replenish the most talent of these three local schools. Sandro Mamukelashvili is off to make his way in the NBA and Shavar Reynolds is transferring to Monmouth.
And the Johnnies are bringing up the rear. St. John’s is one of the first teams that Lunardi has missing the tournament next year. With Julian Champagnie and Posh Alexander returning, there is an argument to be made that St. John’s is the most talented roster of these three schools.
Iona Gaels MAAC Repeat?
Who could forget about the area’s mid-major power? Lunardi projects the Iona Gaels to repeat as MAAC champions next season with a first-round matchup against two-seeded Purdue as a reward.
Iona was ravaged by COVID-19 shutdowns all last season, but somehow, Rick Pitino figured out how to get Iona through a crowded MAAC Tournament field.
The MAAC is going to be stacked this year with a ton of talent returning. Monmouth, Saint Peter’s, and Fairfield should compete for the conference’s at-large berth next season.