Steve Lavin

St. John’s misses out on chance for quality win in loss to No. 20 Pittsburgh

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Villanova notched another quality conference win Saturday when it took down No. 17 Marquette, 60-56, and improved to 18-10 overall and 9-6 in the Big East. That win adds to the two wins against Top 5 teams that they had earlier in the year, Syracuse and Louisville, to make what is shaping up to be a solid bubble resume.

St. John’s needed a win Sunday against No. 20 Pittsburgh to match and help claw its way into the race, but could not, plagued by 32 percent shooting and losing to the Panthers, 63-47, at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Guard D’Angelo Harrison, one of the conference’s leading scorers, was 1-of-12 from the floor Sunday as Pittsburgh’s defense did well to  lock down on him and the rest of the Red Storm’s offensive weapons. New York native Tray Woodall went off for 25 points to lead Pittsburgh, including 4-of-7 shooting from three-point range.

The loss drops St. John’s to 16-11 overall and 8-7 in the Big East, but still with two more opportunities to grab the type of quality wins that would be appealing to the committee on Selection Sunday. If they can avoid a loss to a solid Providence team on the road, they have No. 25 Notre Dame on the road and No. 17 Marquette at home to finish out the regular season.

They would at least two of those three wins to get to 18 wins, but would then likely need to do some work in the Big East tournament to woo the committee.

That is where early season blemishes come back to hurt the Red Storm. Losses to UNC-Asheville and San Francisco in the non-conference will stick out, plus they lost to Baylor and Villanova, two teams that are also on the bubble to make the Field of 68.

Steve Lavin’s team is young, talented, and athletic. If they miss out on the NCAA tournament, they’ll find themselves squarely in the NIT. They’re building something solid in Queens, even if this year won’t see them grabbing an at-large bid to the Big Dance.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

BUBBLE BANTER: Key Atlantic 10, Big East bubble games

Kelan Martin, Kyle Alexander
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This post will be updated throughout the night.

Butler (KenPom: 41, RPI; 67) at Seton Hall (KenPom: 31, RPI: 37), 6:30 p.m.
LSU (KenPom: 53, RPI: 76) at South Carolina (KenPom: 45, RPI: 28), 7:00 p.m.
Nebraska at Wisconsin (KenPom: 51, RPI: 62), 7:00 p.m.
Saint Joseph’s (KenPom: 48, RPI: 30) at George Washington (KenPom: 71, RPI: 34), 7:00 p.m.
Missouri at Vanderbilt (KenPom: 35, RPI: 58), 9:00 p.m.
No. 14 Iowa State at Texas Tech (KenPom: 59, RPI: 51), 9:00 p.m.
Michigan (KenPom: 46, RPI: 56) at Minnesota, 9:00 p.m.
Washington (KenPom: 80, RPI: 57) at Utah (KenPom: 44, RPI: 16), 9:00 p.m.
San Diego State (KenPom: 65, RPI: 47) at Fresno State, 11:00 p.m.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Ben Simmons, LSU get tested at South Carolina; more important bubble matchups

FILE - In this Nov. 24, 2015, file photo, LSU forward Ben Simmons (25) drives downcourt as teammate Antonio Blakeney (2) follows in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina State in New York. For all of his gaudy numbers, Simmons is still trying to figure out the best way to put the Tigers in position to win. And now the schedule gets harder, starting with Tuesday night's, Dec. 29, 2015, tilt against Wake Forest, followed by the opening of Southeastern Conference play against Vanderbilt and No. 10 Kentucky. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: LSU at South Carolina, 7:00 p.m.

LSU attempts to stay atop the SEC standings when they travel on the road to face South Carolina. The Gamecocks have been very tough at home this season and they’re trying to form a potential four-way tie in the conference standings if they’re able to win this one (and Texas A&M wins tonight). It will be intriguing to see how Ben Simmons fares against South Carolina’s stingy defense.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: Saint Joseph’s at George Washington, 7:00 p.m.

An important game in the Atlantic 10 as Saint Joseph’s heads to the Smith Center to play surging George Washington. The Colonels have won three straight games as they try to stay with VCU and Dayton and make a move to tie the Hawks in the league standings. CBT’s Rob Dauster will be in the building for this one, so make sure to follow him on Twitter for updates.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

  1. No. 21 Baylor will have a tough one in the Big 12 when they go on the road at Kansas State. The Wildcats just knocked off Oklahoma and the Octagon of Doom is a very tough place to play, even if Kansas State is struggling in the standings.
  2. No. 16 SMU will try to stay in the lead in the American as they host Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane could really use a road win like this for its postseason chances.
  3. An intriguing Pac-12 contest tips as Washington heads to Utah. The Pac-12 standings are a mess right now, but these two teams still have a chance to make one final move for the regular season title if they start building momentum now.
  4. In the SEC, Alabama hosts No. 15 Texas A&M, a team that has lost three of its last four games. The Aggies will be favored in this road contest, but this one could be interesting because of Avery Johnson’s unique connection to Texas A&M. Avery Johnson Jr., a transfer guard sitting out this season at Alabama, played for the Aggies last season, so he could have some useful tips for his dad on slowing down Texas A&M’s potent offense.
  5. No. 20 Providence will be looking for revenge when they head to Milwaukee to face Marquette. The Golden Eagles currently sit eighth in the Big East standings, but they did win on the road by a point over the Friars earlier this season.