How to Watch or Stream
When and Where: Saturday, December 29th at the Prudential Center
Time: 8:30 pm ET
Watch: FSN/YES Network
Stream: Fox Sports Go
Radio: 570 AM WMCA (St. John’s), 970 AM (Seton Hall)
Odds: Seton Hall is favored over St. John’s by 3.5
All-time: This matchup between the Seton Hall Pirates and the St. John’s Red Storm has been played a grand total of 87 times dating back to 1951, when both met for the first time. This is the fourth-most contested matchup in each program’s history, and so far over the span of the 87 games played, St. John’s has the advantage with 51 wins to Seton Hall’s 36. Recently, and in the current Kevin Willard era, the Pirates have held the advantage in this series with eight wins to St. John’s’ five, which have been split between the Steve Lavin and Chris Mullin coaching tenures.
Under Mullin, St. John’s has only won this game once so far. The Pirates know how to weather this Red Storm, to say the least.
It is that wonderful time of the year again! Christmas is over, that means dear reader that the time is nigh and the Big East is back!
Yes, that two month long slog of nonconference games is now over and the glorious return of conference play across the land is here. The opening slate for the Big East features two games on the docket, as Xavier takes on DePaul and, for the subject of this preview, St. John’s will be taking on Seton Hall at the Prudential Center.
It will be the 88th time that both programs will be facing off against each other and an interesting match up in the scope of the 2018-19 campaign given how non-conference and the season in general has gone so far for both teams.
St. John’s has completed their slate of 12 nonconference games for the season, and now sits on a record of 12-0 on the season for the first time since the 1980s. It has been a stellar start to the season for Mullin and his team that, with each passing game, has been more and more shaped into his image.
The task now though is to make the transition in Big East play and prove that this run of was in fact neither a fluke nor a luck of the draw, which at this point it might have been, as St. John’s didn’t have the toughest of nonconference schedules. In past seasons so far in the Mullin era, that has been a tough task, as the Red Storm have had good nonconference runs but then get a cold wake up on the first few games in conference play.
This season might be the chance for that to turn around but then again these games coming up and til the Big East tournament will be the ones to define St. John’s season as the Red Storm with exception of maybe their win over Virginia Commonwealth early in the season really do not have a defining game from non-conference play or one that would give them a boost come tournament time. If anything their non-conference games were tune ups in adjusting their play to their liking for the Big East. In that regard that might be the biggest takeaway from their season’s non-conference play for St. John’s, that they treated their slate of games as the workshop for their season.
What a workshop it was as the biggest takeaways were that not only does Shamorie Ponds have the scoring touch to take games over. But so far this season, he has been putting on demonstrations in court vision and ball movement with passes that are mouth-watering to watch. He has an ability to sense and know when someone is cutting to the basket.
So far this season, Ponds has been averaging six assists per game. Along with this, a great core of players has emerged with LJ Figueroa so far being one of the best players on the team with a great scoring touch. Mustapha Heron has been solid, and more recently Marvin Clark II seems to have put his foul woes from earlier this season away and closed out nonconference play with several solid games.
The final biggest thing has been the fact that with the loss of Sedee Keita earlier in the season, everyone has stepped up and elevated their play. Though it will be curious as to how this will affect the Red Storm going into Big East play, as the Johnnies do have a bit of a height and depth issue on the bench. Keita hopefully will be back later on in January.
Seton Hall on the other have had been rather stellar so far and could feasibly make the argument for the Pirates to be ranked at this juncture of the season. They have also completed their slate of 12 nonconference games for the 2018-19 campaign, and at the moment are sitting on a record of 9-3 for the season so far. Unlike the Red Storm, the Pirates have had a rather tough nonconference schedule that put Kevin Willard’s team up to the challenge. In the end, they came out of it with resounding success.
The only blemishes in this stretch of twelve were the back-to-back losses to Nebraska and Saint Louis both of whom have been solid this season and their loss to Louisville, which they came so close to getting the win. Other than that it has been a great run, with signature wins over Miami (FL), Kentucky, and Maryland, all three being potential resume builders.
The Pirates have proven to be all around solidly reliable team so far this season. Myles Powell has been at the core of this with a stellar effort so far. At the moment he is the leading scorer for the Pirates, averaging 23.1 points per game and has been the bulk of the scoring for Seton Hall so far this season. Unlike St. John’s, which has had a much more well rounded point per game approach to scoring. Then again, Powell’s powell-ful scoring prowess is definitely in a league of its own as he and Markus Howard of Marquette are definitely to two in the run in for the conference’s leading scorer for this season.
Sandro Mamukelashvili is definitely another to watch on the Pirates especially as he’ll be key to the Pirates setting up down low. Especially given St. John’s lack of height. He has also put together a few solid games towards the end of Seton Hall’s nonconference play as well.
This game really is the be thrown into deep end and see if you can sink or swim for both teams. For St. John’s, this game is the start a series of tests to see if just their run through nonconference play was in fact for real. For Seton Hall, it is the a continuation of their solid start.
A win for both will definitely solidify a claim to a potential ranking as both programs are on the cusp on one and both garnered votes in the last poll. Only the game will tell whether that is true or not. It should be a fun game and a great one to ring in the return of conference play.
May the best team win.