How to Watch
Time and Date: Saturday, January 29, 2022, at 4:30 PM ET
Where: Finneran Pavilion, Villanova, PA
Streaming: Fox Sports Go
Records: St. John’s (11-7, 3-4) || Villanova (15-5, 8-2)
Rankings: St. John’s (#87 KenPom) || Villanova (#5 KenPom, #14 AP Poll)
Spread: St. John’s +13.5 (-105) || Villanova -13.5 (-115)
Surprisingly Villanova and St. John’s have yet to face each other at this point of the season, but that is all about to change this weekend as the Red Storm make the trip down to the Finneran Pavilion to play the 14th ranked Wildcats.
The Johnnies are coming off of a impressive win earlier this week on the road against a slowly listing to port Seton Hall Pirates team. It was their first road win in the Big East this season and their most impressive win to date displaying a well rounded approach as well as some much needed adjustments to the roster. The biggest of which was the promotion of Aaron Wheeler to the starting lineup and moving Posh Alexander to the coming off the bench. The move provided a complete fresh perspective to the team allowing for the roster to play up its strengths and allowing for greater flexibility. Moving Alexander to the bench as well was not so much a demotion but giving him breaks to his minutes and still have a positive impact on the game leading the way against Seton Hall in scoring. Possibly the two greatest takeaways was that first St. John’s looked improved while Julian Champagnie had one of his worst nights on the floor and Aaron Wheeler has emerged as a legitimate offensive option for the Johnnies.
The emergence of Aaron Wheeler the Purdue transfer has in recent weeks provided an added scoring touch to a team that boast the offensive play of Champagnie, Alexander, and Dylan Addae-Wusu, while also going from rotational player to making a case to be a starter. Thankfully Mike Anderson has found that case to worthy of the change. At the moment he is averaging 7.9 points per game but since the start of conference play has had a double digit scoring totals in each game against Big East opposition including a 17 point game against Seton Hall earlier this week which coincidentally is also his highest scoring game so far this season. Things can only look up for Wheeler as he provides a boost to the Johnnies’ roster.
On the Villanova side of things, the Wildcats are coming off of a back to back dominant wins over Georgetown and DePaul where Collin Gillespie dropped 28 points against the Hoyas and the Wildcats continued their domination over the Blue Demons for their 22nd win over DePaul. All things considered despite some tough spots earlier in the season as a result of some tough non-conference games Villanova has managed to hum along nicely in Big East play. They are currently sitting in second place in the conference standings just behind Providence. It is curious though how Nova will fare against the top of the conference as their only encounter so far has been against Marquette and the upstart Golden Eagles gave them more they could handle a loss but then again Marquette might be the greatest enigma in terms of matching up against so far this season. They have yet to play either UConn or Providence so it will be interesting to see how they manage in those games, but that is for another time as their next game is against St. John’s who can be a tough test when they are up for it.
Anchoring this Wildcats team has been the play of Collin Gillespie who so far this season has been averaging 17.2 pointer per game and overall looks even better with each successful season under Jay Wright. There might be a case for him to be Big East Player of the Year. He is not the only threat on the roster as Justin Moore and Jermaine Samuels are waiting in the wings to take the game over, and then there is Eric Dixon who is tied in rebounds per game with Samuels at 6.5 per game and can provide his own scoring touch. In what felt like a nebulous year for Villanova they are once again a tough team to face off against.
St. John’s might have their hands full in this one, but then again Villanova might have a rough day if the Johnnies can get going from the onset of the game. It should be a fun game and these two have had some memorable games in recent seasons. All that is know as for now is Villanova needs a win to keep pace with the Friars and a win for St. John’s would get them back to .500 in the Big East and give them a boast to climb back into a potential spot to join in the race for a bid in the NCAA Tournament. So in short there is a lot on the line and overall it should be fun to see it all unfold.