How to Watch, Stream, Listen, and More
Time: 5 p.m. ET
Stream: Fox Sports Go (Where Available)
Listen: 970 AM WNYM (St. John’s) | 700 WLW (Xavier)
Previous Game: The first meeting this season between Xavier and St. John’s took place last week at the Carnesecca Arena in Queens, New York. The Musketeers won by a score of 84 -73 for their fifth straight win at that point, and it got them back into the Big East’s bubble race.
It is March, and that means college basketball’s regular season is coming to a close soon. The post season of conference tournaments and either the NCAA or NIT Tournaments are about to consume the glut of attention now. Before we can get to that though, the regular season needs to hit its finale. For the Big East, it comes down to this weekend, with a final slate of regular season games left to play and with so much left to play among them.
Up to this point, the Big East has become a mess. The middle of the conference is locked in a five way tie for third. The St. John’s Red Storm, Xavier Musketeers, Georgetown Hoyas, Seton Hall Pirates and Creighton Bluejays are all on the bubble to varying degrees. Though in the case of Georgetown, that might have already ruptured midweek with their scathing loss to the DePaul Blue Demons in Chicago. Still, all of this will hopefully be sorted out by the start of Sunday. And if not? Then we’ve got an odd and interesting Big East Tournament to watch.
Among the five that have much left to sort out are Xavier and St. John’s, who square off this Saturday in Cincinnati. This comes a week after their first game in Queens at the Carnesecca Arena. Going from Queens to the Queen City in a matter of a week. Both teams are looking to get back on track and close out the season with a win.
St. John’s is mired in a two-game losing streak and have lost three of their last four. It has and, simultaneously, has not been a fun ride for the Red Storm this year. After running the table in nonconference play, they have found their Big East season to be a plodding one that often felt listless at times. Even with a much more talented roster, it might be a case that they either did not have enough to maintain their level of play, implying a sense that there was a bit of luck in this the entire time. Or, maybe, that Chris Mullin as the head coach of St. John’s did not have it in terms of changing and adapting his team as the season went on.
One thing for sure is that St. John’s needs to finish strong before heading into the Big East Tournament. Te potential NCAA bid that may await them will need to be keyed in on, unless it gets bungled on Saturday and at the Big East Tournament. They have all the tools in place, they just need to get all of those tools to work. That would mean Shamorie Ponds finding his form, Marvin Clark II straying away from fouling out, and overall, a much more consistent game.
They will also have to contest with the fact that in the first go-around, Xavier shot the lights out. Especially Naji Marshall, who may have free range to operation if we are going off of last game to predict the out come of this one.
Speaking off Xavier, they lost to the Butler Bulldogs earlier this wee, which might have burst the bubble on their NCAA hopes. But they still may be an NIT contender. A win against St. John’s would complete the regular season sweep for the Musketeers. It would also help them to finish with a .500 record in conference play to cap off Travis Steele’s first season as head coach.
In all, it has not at all been a bad season for the Musketeers. Steele has gotten his squad to rebound nicely and got them into a conversation of contention, along with giving high hopes for what to come. They have, at this point since their turnaround, compiled a record of 6-1. Their one loss coming against Butler a few days ago. That loss does set things back a bit, but they could regather things against the Johnnies.
They probably might not get the white-hot game that Naji Marshall had a week ago, but if they got a well-rounded scoring approach from Tyrique Jones, Paul Scruggs, and Quentin Goodin, also Zach Hankins down low by the basket, then they’d make some magic happen.
In all, it should be an interesting game. But will we learn anything from this matchup? Probably not but it will make things extra tasty before heading into the Big East Tournament so that’s always a plus.