(8) Villanova Wildcats (-4.5) at (24) St. John’s Red Storm
A Big East battle is on tap for tonight in New York as the No. 8 Villanova Wildcats (13-1, 1-1 Big East) take on the No. 24 St. John’s Red Storm (11-3, 0-2 Big East) at Madison Square Garden (9:00 p.m. Eastern).
Villanova will be looking to bounce back from its first loss of the season (a 66-61 OT setback against Seton Hall). To do so, the Wildcats will have to relocate their offensive form. Villanova averages 75.9 points per game on the year (35th in the country), but was held to just 58 points through 40 minutes against the Pirates.
The Wildcats rode their potent offense to early season wins over Virginia, Michigan, and Syracuse, which pushed the team as high as No. 6 in the country.
Though St. John’s comes in having lost its last two games (78-67 at Seton Hall and 73-69 vs. Butler), Villanova coach Jay Wright knows the Red Storm are a solid team.
“They are going to be tough to guard,” Wright told Villanova’s official website. “Seton Hall was tough for us and we know St. John’s will be too. Smaller teams that are quick and shoot the threes have hurt us at times.”
Despite the two recent losses, St. John’s is still an impressive 11-3 on the season. They beat Syracuse and Minnesota in non-conference play, but lost to Gonzaga in the NIT Season Tip-Off finale.
The Red Storm are mediocre on offense, averaging 71.2 points per game (111th in the nation), but tenacious on D, allowing only 60.6 points per game (57th in the country).
The offense could receive a boost tonight with the return of Rysheed Jordan, who averages 14 points and three assists per game.
“Rysheed has returned from his home after going through a challenging week,” coach Steve Lavin told the Red Storm’s official website Monday. “He will practice with the team today and suit up tomorrow for our game with Villanova.”
The 6’4″ guard has missed two of St. John’s last four games, including the loss at home to Butler.
The odds have Villanova favored by 4.5 points. St. John’s has been downright miserable, betting-wise, at home against the Wildcats, going 0-5 ATS in its last five.
(Photo credit: Keith Lovett (originally posted to Flickr as Jay Wright) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)