When and Where
Time and Date: Wednesday, January 6th at 8:00 p.m.
Where: Cintas Center, Cincinnati OH
Records: St. John’s (6-4) | Xavier (8-2)
Rankings: St. John’s (#93 KenPom) | Xavier (#54 KenPom)
Spread: Xavier -7.5
The calendar has changed to a new year, and it has been roughly two and a half weeks and since St. John’s has played a competitive game with their win over Georgetown on the 20th of December. They were scheduled to play DePaul last Saturday but that game had to be postponed due to a Covid-19 issue within St. John’s program, which ended up being a false positive.
With another game unable to go forward, the back end of St. John’s season is shaping up to a gauntlet run before the Big East Tournament is scheduled to take place, but that’s a worry for the future the attention now shifts to Wednesday night’s trip to the Cintas Center for a primetime matchup against the Xavier Musketeers, who had a game against Villanova postponed over the weekend as well.
On the Xavier side of things, they are currently on a two game skid with a down to the wire 66 to 61 loss to Creighton, and then followed that up with a blowout 85 to 68 loss last Wednesday to Seton Hall. The Musketeers played well against the Pirates, especially with getting open looks to the basket but could not get any shots to fall going a meager 5-of-24 from beyond the arc though Zach Freemantle played one of his best games. Ultimately, it for naught, as the rest of Xavier’s lineup could not fire and Seton Hall were just firing on all cylinders.
Now the attention turns to hosting St. John’s on Wednesday. It feels weird to say, but knowing how St. John’s will set up or the play they’ll bring to the table this game is tough to judge. Hopefully the time off has given them time to work out the kinks that were there from earlier this season and Mike Anderson can get more balanced level of production for his offense, limiting turnovers and working with the ball in much smoother transitions. Julian Champagnie most likely will be the focal point for the offense, as he has been averaging 20.0 points per game, but given his presence could open up opportunities for the rest of St. John’s roster especially if the mix of Vince Cole, Isiah Moore, Posh Alexander and Greg Williams Jr can get touches.
For Xavier, this game against St. John’s give them ample opportunity to get back to the swing of things in the conference. Given how they started Big East play riding in undefeated and pulling off an impressive win against Marquette since then it has gone a bit sideways with the back to back losses, in recent games but Travis Steele has a good deal of talent in his roster to easily get X back on track. If Zach Freemantle continues his play from where it was against Seton Hall, then that will do wonders for the inside game for the Musketeers. The bigger point for Xavier, will be the guard play as Paul Scruggs and Nate Johnson both has their worst games of the season against the Pirates last Wednesday. Johnson finished his day with zero points, and Scruggs had a six point game neither particularly worth remembering. If the Musketeers can get them firing again, then that is an added offensive punch for them, as both provide that scoring and added touch for ball movement.
In all it should be a fun game to watch on Wednesday night. Hopefully it goes ahead and there are no hiccups for either team with regards to Covid-19 protocols. If the rest of the season goes smoothly then that is a win for the conference.