– Posted by Zurg –
On February 6, Joe Lunardi had 4 Big East teams in his projected tournament field: Villanova (2), Creighton (3), Xavier (9), and Providence (11; Last Four In).
Since then, Villanova handled Seton Hall, 70-53, and Providence lost on the road to Xavier, 59-53.
It will be interesting to see how Lunardi and other esteemed bracketologists address this loss by the Friars, especially since Providence had previously defeated Xavier on its home floor on January 25.
As a conference, however, the Big East should not be content with just 3 or 4 bids. When the Catholic 7 broke off from Louisville, Cincinnati, Connecticut, and the rest of the old Big East, the main purpose was to create a league for basketball-centric schools. Being successful in the NCAA Tournament was not only a goal but also a necessity to assert the new Big East’s place in the college basketball landscape – and thus far this season, schools like Marquette, Butler, and Georgetown (keep gaining that momentum, Hoyas) have disappointed.
Before Sunday night, most would agree St. John’s could be grouped into that ‘disappointing’ category, as well.
But Sunday night happened. St. John’s dusted off some of the MSG magic and used it against Doug McDermott and the Creighton Bluejays.
And now St. John’s is back in the tournament discussion.
Yes, those same Johnnies that opened conference play with 5 straight losses (including one to DePaul).
But those same Johnnies have won their last 6 out of 7 with the lone loss at Creighton already avenged.
St. John’s is now just a win at Seton Hall this Thursday away from climbing back to .500 in conference play. If the Red Storm can get that one, they’ll head back home to take on Georgetown (suddenly a huge game) and Butler before heading to the Wells Fargo Center for a clash at Villanova on February 22.
By my count (and you can trust my count since I went 8-1 last week with my predictions), St. John’s should be 18-9 (8-6) when it heads to the Main Line in Philadelphia. If Coach Lavin can get his team to Villanova with that record, he’ll have a chance to firmly place his team in the tournament field.
Take care of business one game at a time, but based on how the Red Storm plays this upcoming week, it is not crazy to start tossing the Johnnies in the discussion for a NCAA Tournament bid.