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St. John’s vs. Xavier: Game Guide

St. John’s is off to the Queen City of the West for a meeting with Xavier.

NCAA Basketball: Creighton at St. John Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

How to Watch, Listen, or Stream

Game Time: 2:30 p.m. ET

TV: Fox Sports 1 (Joe Davis and Stephen Bardo)

Radio: 970 AM (St. John’s), 700 WLW-AM (Xavier)

Stream: Fox Sports Go (Where available)

The Gamblers Inquiry

Odds: Xavier opens up as 14 point favorites per OddShark

Record ATS: St. John’s (9-7), Xavier (8-5)

O/U: The o/u opened up at 150.5

All Time Series

The Musketeers have a 4-3 lead in this relatively recent series with St. John’s. Prior to 2013, when Xavier and St. John’s met for the first time as conference foes, both teams had met just once. That first meeting was on November 11, 1981, and St. John’s won that game 75 to 55.

Points of Literary Intrigue

The Thin Red Line: St. John’s have been stellar this season from the foul line, converting charitable donations at a rate of 71% so far (A full two percentage points higher than the national average). The problem is getting to the line, especially when a foul shot could be used to either buck a momentous trend or kickstart one. It would be an added bonus for the Red Storm to try and get to the line at a much more effective rate. Naturally, Xavier will look to be aggressive and attack the ball. The Johnnies need to hold firm and let the Musketeers force the errors instead of the reverse. If St. John’s get to the line early and often it could potentially aid in tipping the balance in their favor.

Heavily Guarded: The lock for Xavier to pick on Saturday against St. John’s is how to take their guards, in particular the tandem of Marcus LoVett and Shamorie Ponds, out of the equation. While the Johnnies also have the mix of Federico Mussini and Malik Ellison as well, it is Ponds and LoVett that are the main cogs for offensive flow. The question for Xavier is how to limit any and all space that would allow either LoVett or Ponds to thrive. Opposing them most likely will be JP Macura who will probably spend the most time guarding Ponds, though Malcolm Bernard will most likely see time as well. The lack of a true post player or an ability to play inside for St. John’s also bodes well for the Musketeers, who will try to force the guard minded Johnnies into the interior.

Steal This Book: Coughing up the ball has been a sore spot for the Red Storm for much of the season, as pressure has gotten to them. Last time out against Creighton, the Johnnies managed to keep turnovers to a minimum at eight and held their own in rebounding, another sore area for St. John’s. Even with Creighton seemingly soaring to new offensive heights, the Red Storm were able to hold their own when it came to pressure underneath and working the ball in transition. These areas will still be focal points for Xavier as this final point also goes hand in hand with the first two. Xavier’s success ultimately comes down to being aggressive on the in the transition and in forcing St. John’s inside.