How to watch, listen or stream
Game Time: 9 p.m. ET
Radio: 570 AM WMCA
Live Stream: BTN2Go
Spread: Minnesota opened as 5-point favorites. The line bumped up to 6.5/7 points depending on where you look.
Records ATS: St. John’s (2-0) | Minnesota (2-0)
A win for St. John’s would put them at 3-0 for the third consecutive year and fifth time since the 2009-10 season. Minnesota, meanwhile, seeks a 4-0 start for the first time since the 2013-14 season.
A victory for the Red Storm would deliver a win for the Big East in the 2016 Gavitt Games. A victory for the Golden Gophers meanwhile would tie it up, and considering Marquette fell to Michigan, they would technically have the tiebreaker.
The Red Storm and Golden Gophers are familiar foes as they met back in the 2014-15 season, where the Johnnies won 70-61 as part of the NIT Tip-Off. Prior to that, they’d met two previous times with Minnesota taking victories over St. John’s in December 1996 and January 1994.
What to watch for
Tempo, tempo, tempo
St. John’s has been playing mighty fast this season. So far through their first two games, their Adj. Tempo (per KenPom.com) is at 75.4, meaning they are getting 75.4 possessions per 40 minutes (adjusted for opponent). That’s three more possessions than the Division 1 average through this point of the season, and is up from their mark of 72.8 from a year ago (which, for reference, was almost four possessions higher than the D1 average of 69).
Minnesota hasn’t quite gotten out and ran this year as their mark falls about two possessions short of St. John’s. If the Red Storm turn this into a bit of a track meet they can certainly take advantage so long as they make good on their opportunities. Given that their eFG% stands at 62.1 percent, and their 3-point and 2-point FG% are at 45.8 and 57.4 percent respectively, they have so far this year. Against their toughest test to date, the Red Storm will have to be sharp on the road.
The play of Reggie Lynch
Minnesota hauled in Reggie Lynch from Northern Illinois, and so far the former Husky has been playing at a very high level. Through the first three games of the year, Lynch has averaged 10 points and 6.33 rebounds per game. His OR% and DR% have been at high levels as well and he’s been making shots at a 64.3 percent clip.
St. John’s certainly has the bigs to attack Lynch and make life more troublesome for him. He won’t be facing the likes of Mount St. Mary’s, UT Arlington or UL Lafayette this time around. No, Kassoum Yakwe, Tariq Owens and Yankuba Sima are who the Edina, Minnesota native will likely be combating with and he might find it tougher to get it going as a result. Attacking him and getting him into foul trouble - his FC/40 (Fouls Committed per 40 minutes) is at a lofty 8.2 so far - will be the priorities of note going into this game with the Golden Gophers.
A young backcourt takes its first road test
Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett have played very well so far through the first two games of the year. With that said, they’ll certainly have their hands full when they head to Minneapolis. Dubbed ‘The Barn,’ Williams Arena is one of the tougher environments in the Big Ten and although Gophers hoops hasn’t been sterling in the past few years, any road environment could cause jitters for players like Ponds and LoVett who haven’t gotten their feet wet yet. Mistakes could happen, but in the case of Ponds and LoVett, St. John’s fans will hope that talent overcomes.