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Preview: St. John’s at #16 Providence

It was the best of time and the worst of times for the Friars and Red Storm this week

Providence v Wisconsin Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

How to Watch

Time and Date: Saturday, January 8, 2022 at 12:00 PM ET

Where: Dunkin Donuts Center, Providence RI

TV: Fox Sports 1

Stream: Fox Sports Go

Records: St. John’s (9-3) || Providence (13-2)

Rankings: St. John’s (#84 KenPom) || Providence (#16 AP Poll, #51 KenPom)

Betting Odds

Spread: St. John’s +4.5 (-110) || Providence -4.5 (-110)

O/U: 146

This game presents an intriguing quandary as a Providence Friars team that had a pretty bad setback against Marquette midweek, is playing host to a St. John’s Red Storm team that won against DePaul in the midweek slate of games, but is just getting their feet under the desk of conference play having remerged from their Covid pause. The match up creates a case of a team needing a rebound win to get back on track versus a team needing that tough test to show their back in the swing of things.

Certainly for the neutral eye this is a great meeting at high noon to get a Saturday of college basketball in motion.

The pretty bad setback in the midweek for the Friars was a 88 to 56 loss at the hands of the Marquette Golden Eagles. It was Providence’s worst loss since their 83 to 51 defeat to Florida in the 2019-20 season. It seemed like one of those games where everyone has a plan till they get punched, in this case it Marquette throwing a punch that ended a four game losing streak and brought Providence’s eight game winning streak to an end. They met a team that played a style similar to theirs and were able to blow the doors off. Though everyone with the exception of Al Durham and Ed Croswell had off nights as well.

It might just be a bump in the road that helps the Friars in the long run of the season as a loss like that usually gives more time and clarity to reshape or improve on areas that were lacking beforehand. It would not be surprising if Providence goes back to the way they were before that game.

St. John’s on the other hand came back from their Covid pause and picked up their high scoring ways where they last left off with a 89 to 84 win over the DePaul Blue Demons. Led by Julian Champagnie’s 34 points the Johnnies had a high flying night on the offensive side of the ball though some defensive woes still persist. It seems that there might be some cracks in Mike Anderson’s defensive scheme but also seems that the Johnnies are in the proess of reforming there defensive scheme much in the same vein that they revised the offense after few early season sputters.

So what is to expect in Saturday’s match up?

Well, on the St. John’s side of the ball the focus will be on the trio of Julian Champagnie, Posh Alexander, and Dylan Addae-Wusu. Champagnie has been on another level in terms of scoring this season with a current average of 21.5 points per game, but can pop off a 30 pointer at the drop of a hat. Alexander and Addae-Wusu have paired well with their guard play complementing each other’s. One shift that Anderson has made to the team has taken the ball away from Alexander and in the hands of Addae-Wusu creating a feeder-slasher combination with Addae-Wusus moving the ball in position for Alexander cut towards the basket. It is something to watch as it has the perfect combination of up tempo play mix with court vision and a dash of creating space out of nowhere. Speaking of space, the Johnnies created a lot on offense against DePaul and it will be interesting to see how the Friars seek to limit space and opportunities for the Red Storm to take advantage.

As for the Friars, their loss to Marquette is not the sign of impending doom, but rather a slip in the road that will help the team retool for the rest of the season. Similarly when the doors were blown off by Florida, the Friars responded in kind by 13-6 down the stretch to set a new school of 12 Big East wins. If there is one coach who has not pressed a panic button before its Ed Cooley and he’ll get his guys back on track once more. If all goes according to plan then St. John’s will have a long day ahead of them at the Dunkin Donuts Center. Nico Horchler’s size and abilities to lockdown defensively and stretch the floor offensively present a tough task for the Red Storm to break down. Especially if Horchler is on his game then garnering rebounds and second chance points will give the Friars that added boost. Pair that with leading scorers Nate Watson and Al Durham then Providence has the fire power to match St. John’s over the duration of the game. The thing that will certainly be interesting to see if not so much how Providence handles St. John’s press and pressure, but rather how St. John’s can handle what Providence will throw their way. The Friars are a tough team that is tough to break down, but great at breaking down opponents.

Lastly there is one final bit for the this game, on the line with a Providence win is Ed Cooley’s 300th victory as head coach of the Friars.

In all this should be a fun game to watch and hope everyone enjoys the game.