February 25, 2013
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_