This is the first game in the Big East Tournament for both teams, St John's is, essentially, at home. In the two meetings in the regular season, the Red Storm won both. The first meeting, they won by 13 points and in the second meeting, they won by nine. St John's has a group of seniors, and the run at the end of the season really has given them energy going into this Tournament. Providence enters this game following a home loss to Butler, but it did not have any indication on the seeding for them. This is a star studded game. One of the Conference Players of the Year, Kris Dunn, is featured but there are a lot of other good players in this game as well. There are three things to keep in mind when looking at this game.
Limiting D'Angelo Harrison
As everyone knows, Harrison is one of the top players in this conference when he is consistent, and playing to the level that the Red Storm need him to play at. Well, at Madision Square Garden, expect him to be comfortable. Providence will need to contain him and not let him touch the ball as much. Harrison is averaging 17.6 points per game and is leading the team. Providence's defense allows 65.8 points per game, and that is pretty low because they have length on the team. Harrison will come off a lot of ball screens and have the ball in his hands a lot, but if he does not score early in the game and get going, he will have a bad game. Providence is going to have to key on him because he is used on almost on at least 24 percent of the possessions, which is a lot.
St John's has to play tight defense on Dunn and Henton
Two of the best players on the court are on the Providence side of the ball. St John's will need to really focus on Dunn because he is a monster when driving to the paint, but also great at shooting the ball from behind the arc. Dunn is averaging 15 points per game. Dunn is a streaky shooter, so once he gets hot, he will stay that way for a while. With St. John's defense playing great, Dunn still managed to score 23 points and 17 points in the two meetings. While doing that he was really efficient. LaDontae Henton is on another planet, so the best way to limit him is put some length on him because he is the type of player that likes to get to the basket and get to the free throw line. It will be difficult for the Red Storm, but they will need to put pressure on those two to let other players on Providence score because Dunn and Henton may score half of the points for the Friars.
Who will win?
This was really a tough decision, but St John's has been playing really great basketball except for the last loss of the season, but that really did not have an impact on the season or seeding. This is the seniors' time to step up and get a win in the Big East Tournament. The defense of St John's will also need to step up. Since they beat them twice this season, I do not see any reason why they can not do it a third time especially being in the Big Apple. The common phrase is "it's hard to beat a team three times in a season", but wouldn't you rather be playing someone you've beaten twice than someone you've lost to twice? Rysheed Jordan and Harrison will need to play well on both sides of the ball. This will be a fun match-up because there is a lot of talent on the floor.