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St. John’s vs #10 Gonzaga: 3-Point Preview

After surviving Minnesota, the Johnnies are going to need to improve if they want to knock off the #10 Zags in the NIT Season Tip-Off Championship game. Here are three storylines to keep in mind as St. John’s looks to go 5-0 for the first time since the 2009-10 season.

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1) Can a struggling Redstorm defense stop Kyle Wiltjer?


Kentucky transfer, Kyle Wiltjer, has led one of the best offenses in the country for Bulldogs’ Head Coach Mark Few. He is averaging 16.8 points per game, 5.2 rebounds and is shooting over 72 percent from the field on average. Those are staggering numbers and the fact that senior Kevin Pangos is also playing well, will provide the Red Storm defense with a difficult task tonight.

The Zags have averaged 93.4 points per game and have outscored their opponents by an average of 36 points per game. This, coupled with the 57.4 points allowed per game, makes Gonzaga a perennial power in college hoops and a tough game for St. John’s.

2) St. John’s looks to join the party in the conference


Red Storm Head Coach, Steve Lavin, must be telling his players how big of an opportunity this is for his team. We have already seen two Big East teams knock off ranked opponents including Butler knocking off #5 North Carolina. Creighton is now ranked 23rd in the country after their come-from-behind win over Oklahoma when they were ranked. If St. John’s can also knock off a ranked team it would do wonders for their chances to have a memorable season.

In March, when the selection committee is evaluating resumes for the NCAA Tournament and the Johnnies have a win over a top 10 team there, it could put them over the top. It could even be the difference between being the "Last team in," or "First team out."

3) Home Court advantage for St. John’s


Based on just statistics, Gonzaga is the clear favorite to win this game, but this matchup will take place inside Madison Square Garden. The Johnnies will get the home court advantage for this important non-conference game and they played pretty well there a season ago. St. John’s was 6-3 at home last season during the regular season and 14-5 at home overall. Expect this game to be tough for the Red Storm to win, but with the talent on this team it should be an exciting title game.