The Villanova Wildcats (20-5) will head to Madison Square Garden to face off against the St. John’s Red Storm (18-7) on Saturday, February 17, 2019. Tip-off is schedules for 5:00 p.m. (ET) and will be televised on FS1.
Villanova is coming into the contest at No. 13, while St. John’s is out of the top 25. The Wildcats are coming off an impressive win over Providence on Wednesday night after just losing to No. 10 Marquette 66-65 off a poorly-executed last second play last Saturday. The team averages 76.2 points per contest, while giving up just 66.6 per game. These ranks are good enough for 98th and 55th in the NCAA, respectively.
On the other side of the ball, St. John’s is 41st in the nation averaging just a notch below 80 points per game, at 79.6. They shoot 46% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc. Defensively, the Red Storm have a bit of trouble as they are ranked 233rd surrendering 73.4 points per game.
Villanova has yet to crumble under the pressure of the big stage that is Madison Square Garden against this team. They have won 14 straight games in that location against St. Johns. Yet, Coach Jay Wright is intelligent enough to notice that this is not the same team from previous years, saying “Every year’s a different year and a different team. This is probably the best team we’ve faced in a long time there with them. But last year they beat us at home. Their style gives us trouble and we know it.”
There is no denying that the offensive talent this team has is scary. They are led by Junior guard, Shamorie Ponds who averages 20.5 points per game. He shoots 48% from the field while also leading the league in assists (5.3) and steals (2.75).
Unfortunately, for Villanova basketball fans, Ponds cannot be all you focus on as the Red Storm can spread the floor and beat you from anywhere. Coach Wright went as far as to compare them to his team last year, who won the NCAA Champonship, “Offensively, the same thing holds true. All five of their guys can play all over the floor, much like us last year. So you always have a problem somewhere.”
I cannot believe I am about to do this, but I am going against the Wildcats and taking the upset. St. John’s will be playing hard to ensure their spot in the tournament in March. They played Villanova hard for 37 minutes last time, but fell apart and lost the lead in the end. I think they will hold on for dear life this time, and the St. John’s Red Storm will leave MSG with a W. 77-76.