The St. John's Red Stormvisit Hinkle for the first time Saturday, in a battle of two one-win teams in the Big East. The Butler Bulldogs are coming off another disappointing loss, this time to Providence, while St. John's just got its first conference win at home against Seton Hall. The Red Storm are actually riding a two-game winning streak including a victory over Dartmouth last Saturday.
How Butler Can Win-
By hitting its perimeter shots. St. John's is one of the best defending teams in the paint in the country and Butler is sorely lacking in post scorers (except for one Andrew Chrabascz). Kellen Dunham's numbers are slipping with all the attention defenses have been paying him in conference matchups, but he will be asked to carry the load once again as the most reliable shooter for the Bulldogs.
Alex Barlow and Kameron Woodsmay switch off defending D'Angelo Harrison, who averages 18.1 points a night for the Red Storm. Only Doug McDermott takes a higher share of his team's shots in the Big East than Harrison (30.4 percent).
How St. John's Can Win-
Harrison plays a key role in the Red Storm offensive attack, but a slew of other guys get a chance to make an impact. Nine Johnnies saw ten minutes or more of playing time against Seton Hall, with Harrison, Jakarr Sampson, and Orlando Sanchezleading the way with 16 points a piece. St. John's handles the basketball well, ranking 25th in the nation in turnover rate. Shooting guard Phil Greene has the lowest turnover percentage in the Big East and has gone five straight contests without giving the basketball away.
St. John's defense is all about shutting down the paint. Just Villanova and Marquette are allowing a better two-point field goal percentage in the Big East. Chris Obekpa leads the league in blocked shots, but Sanchez and Sir'Dominic Pointer also contribute to give the Red Storm the most blocks per game nationally.
KenPom: Butler 68, St. John's 65 (64 percent chance of Butler victory)
This could be a struggle for Butler. Athletic opponents have done a great job of shutting down Dunham and forcing the Bulldogs to creating scoring chances inside. With St. John's ability to take away the lane, all the pressure is on Butler's top shooter. If Dunham struggles early, Butler fans will be in for a long night.