Connect with us

Sports

St. John’s forcing its way into NCAA Tournament picture

Published

on

St. John's forcing its way into NCAA Tournament picture

St. John’s stunning upset of third-ranked Villanova on Wednesday night was about more than the moment. It wasn’t just the significance of a 9.5-point underdog thoroughly outplaying the premier program in the Big East. It wasn’t about proving the Red Storm’s recent stretch of solid play wasn’t a fluke.

It was about what this victory could do for Mike Anderson’s team five weeks from now.

“That win is going to have staying power and it’s certainly going to be an eye-opener,” Dave Ommen, a noted Bracketologist who publishes Bracketville.com, said in a phone interview. “Sometimes that is the difference between making it in and not making it in.”

Ommen was referring to the NCAA Tournament. Yes, St. John’s is now firmly in the mix, according to four Bracketologists — Jerry Palm of CBS, Michael DeCourcy of Fox, Ommen and Brad Wachtel of Facts & Bracks — The Post spoke with. Palm has St. John’s in the field in the First Four. DeCourcy has them in his Next Four Out. So does ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. The others haven’t updated their brackets, but said St. John’s is on the outside looking in at the moment.

The consensus among the experts is the Red Storm (12-7, 6-6 Big East) have now played their way onto the radar. The win over Villanova, the Johnnies’ fifth straight and sixth in seven games, garnered significant attention. Now they have to build on it, starting Saturday at Providence. Their résumé needs work.

“I see St. John’s as one of those teams in that First Four, Next Four Out range right now,” Ommen said. “They’ve certainly played their way into at-large consideration.”

St. John’s has only three combined Quad 1 and 2 victories in nine opportunities, at home over Villanova and on the road against Marquette and Connecticut. It has a NET rating of 67, the tool the selection committee uses to evaluate teams. It does have four wins away from home, which is traditionally important in the committee’s eyes, since the tournament is played at neutral sites. And, Palm pointed out, just one bad loss, at home to Marquette, a Quad 3 setback.

There will be plenty of opportunities for the Red Storm to improve their standing. They still visit Villanova and host Seton Hall and Xavier. A previously postponed home game against UConn is expected to be rescheduled. A 5-3 league record the rest of the way, Wachtel said, would likely get them in. A 4-4 Big East mark and a tournament bid would depend on who the Johnnies beat.

“They’re going in the right direction and the schedule gives them some really good opportunities,” Palm said.

According to all of the Bracketologists, the selection committee always considers who bubble teams have defeated when comparing them to one another. Beating other likely tournament teams is important. St. John’s has knocked off two of them, Villanova and UConn, and has the chance for more. A positive in the Johnnies’ favor is their 12-7 overall record. A number of bubble teams are dangerously close to .500. Only two at-large teams that have been fewer than three games over .500 have reached the tournament, DeCourcy said. But this isn’t a normal season, with teams playing a maximum of 27 games, which could lead to exceptions being made.

“I just can’t see them going there if they don’t have to,” DeCourcy said.

The bottom line is so much can happen over the next five weeks. If St. John’s stays hot, it likely will reach the tournament. It can ill afford any cold spells and their margin for error is slim. But it sure beats where St. John’s was only a few days ago. It controls its own destiny.

As Al Davis liked to say, “Just win, baby.”

Dancing would almost certainly follow.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sports

Taijuan Walker throws first bullpen session as a Met

Published

on

By

Taijuan Walker throws first bullpen session as a Met

Observations from Wednesday’s Mets workout:

Off the mound

Taijuan Walker — hard to miss wearing No. 99 — threw his first bullpen session since joining the Mets. The right-hander signed a two-year deal worth $20 million last weekend.

Run it

Baserunning was a primary focus of the workout. Manager Luis Rojas cited the team’s below par base-running last season as a factor in the team’s mediocre scoring output despite leading MLB in batting average.

Caught my eye

Dominic Smith worked out wearing a Catapult vest with a monitor designed to provide him with analytical information about his performance.

Thursday’s schedule

Full-squad workouts continue in Port St. Lucie.

Continue Reading

Sports

K’Andre Miller latest Ranger placed on COVID-protocol list

Published

on

By

K’Andre Miller latest Ranger placed on COVID-protocol list

Before Wednesday night, the Rangers had lost only one player to the COVID-protocol list, when Kaapo Kakko missed the Feb. 1 match against the Penguins with what turned out to be a false-positive test.

Kakko went back on the list Saturday, when he was sidelined for the Blueshirts’ contest in Washington and remained on it for Wednesday’s game in Philadelphia. That was not all of it, however, as the Blueshirts placed K’Andre Miller on the list as well in the hours leading up to the 4-3 loss to the Flyers.

It is unclear whether Miller, who was replaced in the lineup by Jack Johnson, had tested positive. It is also unknown whether the Rangers might be vulnerable to an outbreak in the wake of these situations, which occurred five days apart.

Johnson, a scratch for Saturday’s victory over the Capitals, had played in the Rangers’ 3-2 shootout victory in Philadelphia last Thursday after having missed the previous eight games with a groin injury. He had participated in just one practice before rejoining the lineup.


Mika Zibanejad played perhaps his most dynamic game of the year, collecting a pair of assists in 20:20 of ice time, but he was denied twice on shorthanded breakaways, the second with 3:40 remaining and the Blueshirts down 4-3. Zibanejad also was denied earlier, with 5:45 remaining in the first period, when the puck rolled on him.

Both times, he went to the backhand. Both times, Brian Elliott was up to the task. He was asked whether he thought he might have scored if he were having a normal season, not this one in which he has two goals, with one deposited into an empty net.

“I don’t know. I did the move that I usually do, he read it, it didn’t go in,” Zibanejad said. “So I don’t know. It’s a hard question to answer. It just leads to more speculation. I’m just trying to keep it as simple as possible and not overthink those chances.”

The pair of assists doubled the center’s season total to four.


The Blueshirts surrendered 39 shots on goal, the most they’ve allowed this season.


The Rangers, 2-for-5 on the power play, have now scored in three straight with the man advantage (4-for-15) after going 0-for-14 in the preceding five matches.

In the absence of Miller, Kakko, Jacob Trouba (thumb) and Artemi Panarin (leave of absence), Brendan Smith and Anthony Bitetto were on the points on the second unit power play. The Blueshirts have scored 10 power play goals, with the first unit on for nine of them.


The Rangers won just 20 of 55 faceoffs (36 percent), with Zibanejad winning just two of his 14 draws.

Continue Reading

Sports

Rutgers storms back from big deficit to beat Indiana

Published

on

By

Rutgers storms back from big deficit to beat Indiana

Geo Baker and Ron Harper Jr. had 20 points apiece to help Rutgers rally from a 15-point deficit and beat Indiana 74-63 on Wednesday night in Piscataway, N.J.

Baker, who shot 7 of 13 from the field, set a program record with six made 3-pointers in a Big Ten conference game and had a season-high 10 assists.

Baker hit four of the Scarlet Knights’ seven 3s in a 25-6 run over a 7-plus minutes span that made it 33-29 with 55 seconds left in the first half, and Rutgers (13-13, 9-9) led the rest of the way.

Myles Johnson had 10 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high seven blocks for Rutgers.

Trayce Jackson-Davis had 21 points and 11 rebounds and Aljami Durham added 20 points for Indiana (12-11, 7-9).

The Scarlet Knights went into the game on the bubble for the program’s first NCAA tournament berth since 1991. Their last two regular season games are on the road at Nebraska (5-16, 1-13) on Monday and Minnesota (13-10, 6-10) on March 6.

Anthony Leal hit a 3-pointer to trim Indiana’s deficit to 54-45 with 10:50 to play, but the Hoosiers missed their next nine shots as they went nearly 8 minutes without a field goal.

Indiana has lost back-to-back games and three of its last four. The Hoosiers play host to No. 3 Michigan on Saturday before closing out conference play with road games against Michigan State and Purdue.

Continue Reading

Trending