How to Watch
Time and Date: February 16, 2022 at 6:30 PM ET
Where: Cintas Center, Cincinnati, OH
Records: St. John’s (13-11, 5-8) || Xavier (17-7, 7-6)
Rankings: St. John’s (#85 KenPom) || Xavier (#25 KenPom)
Spread: St. John’s: +8.5 (-110) || Xavier: -8.5 (-110)
Believe it or not this game will be the first time this season that the St. John’s Red Storm and the Xavier Musketeers will be playing each other. Yes, due to the quirk of Covid postponements and rescheduling said postponements the season series between the Musketeers and the Red Storm will kick off just as the regular season is entering its final throughs.
Both teams are coming off 1-3 stretches over the last week with Xavier dropping games against DePaul and Seton Hall before rallying on Friday with over UConn. Cause of this stretch the Musketeers dropped out of the AP rankings this Monday but only by a close margin from their previous ranking position. St. John’s on the other hand started off with a come from behind win against Butler before dropping their next two against Villanova and UConn as the Johnnies once again take one step forward and two steps back, something that has been a common occurrence in conference play.
It seems that in some ways this game between these two programs find themselves on different paths but on the same summit. Xavier has drifted down to just a game above the .500 mark in conference play in what has been a cycle since mid-January of two wins on the bounce followed by two losses. Interestingly they are still within the mix for conference play and that is in large part to the fact that the Big East this season is once again a bit of a blood bath and if you can keep an even keel in and around the .500 mark you’ll be in a good spot for post season play considerations.
At this current point in time Xavier is averaging around 73.1 points per game with their leading scorers being Jack Nunge at 13.1 points per game and Paul Scruggs at 12.3 points per game. Scruggs is also leading the way in assists with a mark 4.3 per game though Colby Jones can also move the ball around as he is currently averaging 2.8 points per game. Lastly Jones and Nunge are leading the way in rebounds with Nunge averaging around 7.2 boards per game and Jones has a mark of 7.5 rebounds per game on the season so far.
Weirdly St. John’s has been in a similar cycle this season with on and off rotations of wins and losses. It feels in some ways that they will take positive steps forward only to regress in their next stretch of two games. It seems as if they have not completely addressed their poor habits on the court completely. The Johnnies are still having trouble finding ways to close games out. They can find ways to get back into games but finding that way to close out a game has been an ongoing issue which is strange given the fact that this team has myriad of talent that should be able to close things out be it Julian Champagnie or more recently either the likes of Dylan Addae-Wusu or Aaron Wheeler. At this juncture of the season their chances of a potential tournament prospects might be slim to none unless a Big East Tournament miracle takes place and Mike Anderson’s winning season streak might be getting close to the rocks again.
This game against Xavier might be their way back to having a strong finish to the regular season but that might be a long road. The Musketeers on the other hand have had a recent blip of trouble but that might just be a blip and nothing more as they still have a lot of life left in them and are still well within the mix of the conference. One thing for sure is that this game between these two programs should be an interesting one to watch unfold especially as they are playing each other for the first time this season. In all it should be as fun game to watch.