Matchup: Marquette Golden Eagles (14-10, 5-7) vs. St. John’s Red Storm (12-13, 1-11)
Date and Time: February 10th, 12:00 p.m ET/11:00 a.m. CT
TV: FSN (check local listings, we will post a list of affiliates when it comes in)
Streaming: FOX Sports Go
Line: St. John’s (-1)
How late is too late to turn a season around? Can a 12-13 team receive #1 votes? The Red Storm has the nation’s attention after pulling off two of the most impressive not just upsets, but wins of the year against #4 Duke and #1 Villanova. Chris Mullin’s squad storms into Saturday’s matchup against Marquette knowing they can beat anyone.
In St. John’s last two matchups, Shamorie Ponds has looked like a National Player of the Year contender. As he attempts to to takeover as the Big East’s leading scorer this year, Ponds will have to hope his hot hand from 3 will continue. While shooting 23.6% from 3 on the year, the star sophomore has shot 6-13 from 3 in his previous two games. Seeing as Mullin only played six players against Villanova, for St. John’s to keep winning, Ponds will have to be more than just a good player, he will have to continue to play at an elite level.
Marquette severely struggles against the pick and roll. Look for Ponds and the Johnnies to take advantage and light up Marquette’s weak defense. With Andrew Rowsey struggling of late, Mullin can try (keyword: try) to focus his defense on stopping Markus Howard, who has been especially dominant on the road in Big East play.
Marquette looks to reap the rewards of St. John’s recent success. This past week St. John’s shot up in the KenPom rankings. What previously looked like an insignificant win could now help Marquette in its quest to the NCAA tournament. While this sounds nice for Golden Eagles fans, there is strong fear of Marquette losing.
Marquette limps into Saturday’s matchup. After a horrible stretch of four losses Marquette finally pulled out a win at Seton Hall. The Golden Eagles are still in the tournament bubble, but they can only afford one more loss this season and still have a chance at the NCAA tournament. With two games against Creighton remaining, that loss cannot happen Saturday.
Look to see if Wojo uses a zone press this game. While he has used a press scarcely in the past, now may be the game to break it out. One of St. John’s biggest strengths is they do not turn the ball over (33rd in the nation in turnovers per game). A press may help the Golden Eagles force turnovers. A press will also force the Johnnies to play at a faster pace. With only six players in St. John’s rotation, Wojo can look to tire Mullin’s team.
A big game from Rowsey could have big implications, not just on this game, but for the rest of the season as well. Is Marquette’s sharp shooter still in slump? While he played better against Seton Hall, this game is pivotal. If Rowsey can step up as a player and leader and lead his team to victory he could turn his and Marquette’s season around for the better.