Friars Looking for their 9th Straight Win- Host Struggling St. John’s

The Friars return to action Saturday at 12pm EST when they host St. John’s on FS1. It’s a tale of two teams seemingly headed in opposite directions. PC is looking to follow up an impressive performance vs #4 UConn and secure their 9th consecutive win. St. John’s, after an 11-1 start to the season, have dropped 4 straight and currently sit 8th in the conference. Providence could have a Husky hangover and the Johnny’s have to be real desperate to turn their season around. Let’s take a look at the matchup.

St. John’s (11-5, 1-4) at Providence (13-3, 5-0)

12:00pm FS1, Amica Mutual Pavillion

Jared Bynum / Andre Curbelo Status- What made Providence’s 12-point victory over UConn so impressive was they did it without their lead guard Jared Bynum for the majority of the game. Bynum is dealing with an abdominal injury he suffered while slipping on the slick AMP court and subsequently catching the body of Donovan Clingan on the next defensive possession. The Friars could really use Bynum in this matchup as SJ loves to turn up the fullcourt pressure. The status of St. John’s guard Andre Curbelo is up in the air as well but for different reasons. Curbelo was suspended for St. John’s 85-96 home loss to Marquette for team rules. It is to be noted that he has practiced this week and traveled to Providence, but something to certainly keep an eye out for.

Opportunities in Transition- One of the keys to the UConn game was to limit their transition offense. The same can be said for this matchup against SJ; however, the main focus would be for the Friars to try and get out in transition. In the past PC has tried to beat St. John’s at their own game and it always hasn’t worked out. Marquette was able to score 25 points against SJ in transition. The Friars should pick their spots and get out and run.

Battle of the Offensive Glass- Ed Cooley was able to make great adjustments in the second half to limit UConn at second chance points. PC now battle a SJ team that ranks 16th in the nation in offensive rebounding. The Friars aren’t too shabby themselves checking in at 32nd in the nation. This game may be decided on who wins the second chance points battle. The Soriano Croswell battle may be under the radar but will be an absolute slugfest.

SJ’s Interior Defense– The Crier is on record for questioning the skills of SJ big man Joel Soriano in seasons past. Soriano is making the Crier eat crow. Joel has been far and away St. John’s best player averaging 16.2 ppg, 12.2 rpg, and 1.6 bpg. He will probably win most improved player but let’s see how he plays against a team like Providence. The Friars have been able to attack the paint and either score or get to the line all year long. Is Soriano up for the task?

What Posh Alexander Will We See – Posh has been one of the most disappointing players in the Big East. I expected him to be a dark horse BE POY candidate, and he just can’t seem to get things on track. With Bynum likely out, Posh may be able to kickstart his offense with a few easy transition buckets.

Friars Need to Take Control of the Ball – The only way Saint John’s pulls the upset is if the guard play implodes for Providence. While I don’t anticipate this happening, it wouldn’t exactly shock me. Mike Anderson’s squad loves to press and force the issue. If Providence is careless with the ball, they keep an inferior St. John’s team in the game.

Prediction

Crier: Typically the Crier is worried about a game like this given the circumstances. PC’s possible hangover and SJ trying to snap a 4-game skid would be cause for concern for me. However SJ is teetering on their season imploding, and I don’t think their defense gets fixed over night, especially against a team like PC. A matchup to watch for is Hopkins against David Jones. SJ is going to need an efficient Jones to keep this game close. Friars get the W and will be top 20 in next week’s AP Poll. PC 88 SJ 77

BOC: I think the defense is the reason for the Friars win. PC makes life incredibly difficult for the opposing team, especially one without discipline like Saint John’s. PC 84 – St. John’s 76.

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