Will St. John's be able to get out in transition?
The St. John Red Storm is at their best when they can get out in transition and score easy baskets. The Red Storm score 32.6% of their points in transition, per Hoop-Math.com. When they are forced to play a slower pace and run half court offense, mainly against a zone defense, they have struggled to get points. D'Angelo Harrison and occasionally Phil Greene IV are the only players who are threats shooting from the outside and St. John's lacks the interior size and depth to do much damage from below the foul line. The Red Storm are 20th nationally in Defensive Steal % at 12.7%, according to Kenpom.com. That percentage also ranks 3rd in the Big East. If they can get steals against a Providence team that has games where they have been turnover-prone then I like St. John's chances even on the road.
Can Providence get scoring from someone other than Henton and Dunn?
LaDontae Henton and Kris Dunn combine to average 34.8 points/game of Providence's 69.1 points/game overall. That's good for 34.4% of the team's scoring on a per game basis. The only other Friar player who averages double figures in scoring is Tyler Harris. Harris averages 10.6 points/game and has been coming off the bench as the team's 6th man since late December. Harris was a key x-factor in the Friars last game against Georgetown as he hit some clutch shots late in the game that Providence would ultimately win in overtime on the back of Dunn.
If Harris doesn't step up and be the team's 3rd scorer then the next most likely player is 5th year senior Carson Desrosiers. The 7-footer from New Hampshire has been better on the offensive end this season compared to last season but he still isn't a consistent threat to score the ball. With St. John's lack of size and depth Desrosiers could have a breakout scoring day down low for Providence. Either way, the Friars could use some help to take some of the scoring pressure off of Henton and Dunn as teams will be keying on those two every game.
Who will win?
St. John's has too many issues they need to figure out the Providence Friars have shown they can win with defense. I think the Friars take this one at home behind a stingy zone defense that will force the Red Storm to shoot from the outside. I also think Chris Obekpa will foul out of this game which will leave 6'6 Sir'Dominic Pointer to pick up much of the minutes at center.