St. John’s got the win they needed against South Florida on Wednesday and look to help their resume with a big home win against the #20 ranked Pittsburgh Panthers at Madison Square Garden. The Red Storm are still squarely on the bubble according to ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi. A win against the Panthers can boost the chances with only three games remaining after this home contest.
The Panthers are coming off two loses to Notre Dame and Marquette after rolling off three straight against Syracuse, Seton Hall and Cincinnati. Their loss against Notre Dame on Monday was a struggle like the team hasn’t seen this year as they scored only 42 points and lead at halftime. Pittsburgh is averaging 69.9 points a game this year.
Last year the Johnnies lost twice to Pittsburgh, once in the regular season where the Panthers won at home by 20. The second time was in the Big East Tournament when they eliminated the Johnnies and ended the season for the “Fresh Five.”
Date: Sunday, February 24th, 2013
Location: Madison Square Garden- New York, NY
Time: 12:00 PM EST
Radio: WBBR 1130 AM (John Minko, Brandon Tierney)
Pittsburgh Panthers (20-7, 8-6)
Head Coach: Jamie Dixon
Jamie Dixon and his Panthers have a big team that will present some problems for the Johnnies. The Panthers play with a traditional two forward, two guard and center lineup. The most important player on the court for the Panthers in their upset win over Syracuse was center and seven-footer Steven Adams. The freshman from New Zealand is averaging 7.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game while shooting almost 60% from the field.
Tray Woodall is very familiar to Johnnies fans as the senior guard has been wrecking havoc against the Red Storm for four years. Woodall leads the Panthers in scoring with 10.9 points per game as well as dishing out 5.3 assists. Woodall scored 11 points, two rebounds and two assists on 4-9 shooting and was the only Panther in double digit scoring against Notre Dame. Woodall will be looking to take over and not have Pitt drop it’s third straight game.
Junior forward Lamar Patterson is second on the team in scoring with 10.1 points per game and grabbing 4.3 rebounds a contest. Patterson will most likely match up with Sir’Dominic Pointer as the two do it all forwards will be battling it out in a big matchup.
Projected Starting Lineup:
C Steven Adams
F Lamar Patterson
F Talib Zanna
G James Robinson
G Tray Woodall
St. John’s (16-10, 8-6)
Head Coach: Steve Lavin
The Red Storm got the win they needed against South Florida and will look to be the authors of another huge upset of Pittsburgh at the Garden. Two years ago the senior laden, first year Steve Lavin team beat #4 Pittsburgh at the Garden on a last second layup by Dwight Hardy. The moment lead to the Johnnies making the tournament for the first time since 2002.
This year the Johnnies will be lead by freshmen and sophomores but look to finish off that same type of upset. D’Angelo Harrison finished with 18 points, four rebounds and five assists against South Florida and shot 5-11 from the field. It looks like his shooting slump could be over and that would be huge for the Johnnies if Harrison could be consistent with his shot in a big game.
JaKarr Sampson has a knack for coming up with a big game and he showed that with another outstanding performance against South Florida. Sampson scored 20 points and had seven rebounds on 8-15 shooting. Sampson can be a huge boost for the Johnnies in a game like this and they will need him to keep up the good work on the boards as well.
Projected Starting Lineup:
F JaKarr Sampson
F Sir’Dominic Pointer
G Marc-Antoine Bourgault
G Phil Greene
G D’Angelo Harrison
Keys to Victory
• Big Team, Big Rebounds- Sunday will be a must win in the rebounding category for the Red Storm. After having trouble on the glass in the early season, Pointer, Chris Obekpa and Sampson have picked up the slack. Obekpa has raised his rebounding average to six per game only second behind Sampsons 6.7. It will be crucial to box out and get position on Adams and Patterson in the post.
• Bourgault from three- Marc-Antoine Bourgault has gotten some major minutes since Jamal Branch went down with an injury and has done a good job with his playing time. Bourgault had 10 points on 4-7 shooting in 26 minutes against the Bulls and any kind of production like that can help the Red Storm in any game. • Be bad– The Johnnies need a classic performance from Sir’Dominic Pointer. The bad man had 12 points, 10 rebounds and six assists against South Florida and a repeat all around performance will go a long way towards building that resume one win at a time.
• Guard play- Phil Greene had a lousy 0-7 shooting performance against South Florida after scoring 21 against Louisville. A consistent performance from Greene is needed as Jamal Branch is still day-to-day with an MCL sprain.
Final Prediction: St. John’s Wins, 65-64