Red Storm Beat Golden Eagles on the Road, Now Have One Foot on the Dance Floor

Forget the four ranked opponents St. John’s has beat this year, they still seemed like a team that didn’t quite belong in the Big Dance last Thursday. Following a big win over UConn, the Johnnies leaped far into everyone’s bracket finally, but they still had a glaring weakness, playing away from home. With only one road win this year, they had to continue to win at home and hope to steal one on the road to dance come March. Now only five days later, the Johnnies have completely changed that sentiment.

First a gutty road win at Cincinnati, now a convincing win at Marquette and St. John’s is almost a lock for the dance. Yes I said it, a lock. After beating UConn I was impressed, but I am much more impressed with the two road wins. St. John’s is now 16-9 (8-5 in the Big East), and with remaining games with Depaul, Seton Hall and South Florida, there is no reason to think St. John’s won’t make it, even if they slip up in one of those matchups. The Johnnies also have dates with Pittsburgh and Villanova but winning either of those games would just be icing on the cake. Honestly the Johnnies probably only need two more wins to make the Big Dance, which makes it hard to believe they’ll slip up.

Right now, it might be time to start looking at what kind of seed the Johnnies could get. At this point if the Johnnies beat who they are supposed to and lose to Pitt and Nova, then pick up one Big East tournament win, I’d expect they will end up with somewhere around a 7 or 8 seed come selection Sunday. If they can pick up another big win then they can possibly improve that seeding even more.

I hate to talk this confidently, but at this point the way the Red Storm are playing, its hard to not have confidence in them. Still they have showed inconsistency throughout the year, so its not easy to guarantee anything. This Saturday Pittsburgh comes to MSG and faces the red hot Red Storm. The Panthers are now 23-2 and ranked 4th in the country, so another big chance to take down a big time team.

After the hiring of Steve Lavin, I believed that he would make St. John’s relevent again. The reason though was because of his great recruiting talents. After less than a year, he has already proved that part to be true by signing the #2 class for 2011. My biggest concern though was his coaching ability. He had a lot of talent at UCLA, but never managed to cash in on it, and have his teams play to their potential. Right now its hard for me not to give him some props for exceeding my expectations in the first season. Whenever I watch them, I am impressed by some of the coaching principles. The Red Storm are not a good outside shooting team, and Lavin has made sure they get to the hoop to get higher percentage shots. While he’s not a great x’s and o’s coach, he’s better than the average college hoops coach, and might be able to take this team even further than I thought, especially when they get more talent down the road.

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