St. John's and Xavier square off for a hot lunch date Saturday in a crucial Big East match-up. The Red Storm and Musketeers ride into the Cintas Center on two game win streaks, but are still on the edge of the NCAA tournament. Xavier, 7-6 and in fifth place in Big East play, can ill afford a home loss. On the contrary, a road win would do wonders for the Johnnies in regards to their tournament hopes.
It will be the first of two match ups between these two love birds. Let's get to it!
"Xavier? I don't even know her." - D'Angelo Harrison, probably
I just wanted to say that. Alright let's go.
First team to make 60 3-pointers wins
Xavier plays a style of defense that leaves them prone to opponents camping out behind the arc and nailing three-pointer after three-pointer. St. John's is just plain awful at defense, no matter what style. We should expect a lot of three-point shooting Saturday.
Remy Abell leads Xavier in three-point shooting, shooting 42% from behind the arc. D'Angelo Harrison is the man for St. John's, shooting 38% from 3-point land. It may come down to whichever team has the hot hand from downtown that determines the outcome of this game.
Xavier's Depth vs St. John's...well....not depth
St. John's coach Steve Lavin doesn't exactly have the best bench in the world. Only six players from St. John's have played in more than 20 games. The Red Storm rely on their starters to get the job done with very little rest.
Xavier coach Chris Mack has a luxury of a deep bench. Unlike St. John's, Xavier has nine players who have played in over 20 games. If this game comes down to the wire, can a fresh Xavier squad wear out a tired St. John's team?
Chris Obekpa. To Play? Or not to play? That is the question.
With a nagging foot injury, the status of St. John's big man in the middle is still uncertain. If he's able to play, he'll be in charge of stopping 6' 10" Matt Stainbrook and Jalen Reynolds. If not, Xavier should have an easy time driving the lane on a guard-heavy Red Storm lineup. Obekpa is the "X" factor in order for St. John's to stop the "X-Men."
Tip off is at 12:30 p.m. on FOX. National spotlight on a pretty damn important Big East game. It's the perfect way to start your Valentine's Day. Order pizza, a six pack of Barq's Root Beer, and Big East basketball. Enjoy the games!
For more on St. John's check out our friends at Rumble in the Garden.
Feeling a little more towards the Xavier side? Check out Banners on the Parkway.