A clutch overtime win has put the Marquette Golden Eagles in good shape to make a run for the NCAA Tournament as the final two weeks wind down in the regular season. Before they can even think about celebrating on Selection Sunday, they will first have to get past the pesky St. John's Red Storm on Wednesday night.
Before you look at their record (5-9 in Big East play) and write them off as a surefire win, remember that St. John's comes into the contest on a roll, winners of three of their last four. Those wins were not over pushovers either, as the Red Storm took down Louisville at home and followed that up by going on the road to defeat Notre Dame and South Florida.
With their hopes of an NCAA Tournament run clearly gone, St. John's will look to play the role of spoiler the last two weeks with games against Marquette, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse.
Leading the way for the Red Storm is junior small forward D.J. Kennedy, who will enter the contest averaging 14.5 points per game, 6.4 rebounds, and three assists, all team-highs. The 6-foot-6 forward can hit from anywhere on the court and is the clear go-to guy for St. John's. A big key for Marquette will be shutting down Kennedy, who averages 15.2 points per game in wins, but only 13.4 in losses. Shut down Kennedy means shutting down St. John's.
St. John's also features a pair of guards who contributed this season in juniors Dwight Hardy and Paris Horne. The second and third leading scorers for the Red Storm will need to be covered closely on offense, as Hardy averages two three-pointers a game and shoots almost 40 percent from beyond the arc.
Horne has regressed from last year but still gives the Red Storm good experience and leadership on the court, and his long, 6-foot-3 body will be difficult for Marquette on the offensive end.
St. John's features eight players who average 19 minutes or more, meaning fresh legs will constantly be on the floor. Four of those players are forwards who average between six and seven points a game, so the production is spread out as well as the minutes.
Their offense is below average, shooting just 42 percent from the field and rarely getting to the free throw line. When they do draw fouls, they shoot juts 65 percent from the line, ranking second to last in the Big East behind only DePaul.
They do nothing extremely well but sit 11th or 12th in most statistical categories when compared with other Big East teams, but the fact they are at home means Marquette will not be able to sleep on the Red Storm.
The Red Storm borrowed a couple of Pennsylvania natives and rounded out their 2007 recruiting class…