BIG EAST TOURNAMENT FIRST ROUND
GEORGETOWN HOYAS VS. ST. JOHN’S RED STORM
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Watch Online: FOX Sports GO
Spread: St. John’s opened as a 4.5-point favorite. The line went down to 4.
O/U: The total is currently set at 143.5/144.
Records ATS: St. John’s (14-15) | Georgetown (13-15)
In a way, it’s fitting that the Georgetown Hoyas and St. John’s Red Storm are opening the Big East Tournament for the second straight year. Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin are perhaps the two most prolific Big East players in conference history, and they had no shortage of battles at Madison Square Garden as players (also, Mullin almost got in a fight with Patrick Ewing Jr. in last year’s opener). Will we see Ewing and Mullin both come out in sweaters? Probably not! But the point still remains: This game has a bit more pageantry and storylines than a typical Big East Tournament opener.
Moving past the coaches, St. John’s guard Shamorie Ponds and Georgetown center Jessie Govan are two of the best players in the conference. Ponds earned All-Big East First Team honors over the weekend, and it’s pretty easy to see why. He led the Big East in scoring at 21.6 points per game, led in steals at 2.5 per game, and finished fourth in the conference in assists at 4.9 per game. Despite early inklings of a sophomore slump, Ponds bounced back exquisitely, particularly in conference play. Obviously, the season didn’t go quite how Mullin and St. John’s planned it, but Ponds’ performance was certainly a bright spot.
Another bright spot for the Red Storm were Arizona transfer Justin Simon and Michigan State transfer Marvin Clark II. Simon, a former five-star recruit showed just why he had that designation, finishing second in the Big East in assists per game in his first year in Queens (5.2 per game) and fifth in the conference in rebounding (7.1 per game) to go along with 12.0 points per game. Clark clocked in at 12.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game as he was often a glue guy for the Red Storm.
On the other side, Georgetown is anchored by the aforementioned Govan. The junior center made the most of his first year in Patrick Ewing’s system, finishing second in the Big East in rebounding at 10.0 per game and 10th in the conference in scoring at 17.5 per game. The hype has always been there with Govan, but to see him virtually double his numbers in the first year under Ewing really makes you wonder what he could have been with four years of the Hoya legend’s tutelage instead of just two.
The other Hoya to watch? Marcus Derrickson. As part of the same recruiting class, he’s been mentioned alongside Govan for years now, and much like Govan, he largely benefitted from the coaching change. He finished the year at 15.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, doubling last year’s totals. He also saw a ten percent rise in his three-point percentage, going from 34.4% last year to 45.6% this year. Derrickson’s improvements were rewarded with a spot on the All-Big East Second Team.
Perhaps the most unheralded part of Ewing’s first season at the helm were the contributions from his freshmen. Having to build a class nearly entirely from scratch upon his hiring, Ewing ended up with two players on the Big East All-Freshman Team in guards Jahvon Blair and Jamorko Pickett . They finished second and third amongst Big East freshmen in points per game with 9.8 and 9.3 per game, respectively.