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, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.