BANKER (St. John vs UConn)
St. John’s has been a very solid program out of the big East for the last few seasons and they’ve gotten off to a solid 9-4 start this year as well with their only losses coming to Kansas, providence, Indiana and a sketchy loss to Pitt. St. John’s is a team who scores a lot of points and wants to get up and down the floor in an up-tempo style. St. John’s has done well on the offensive side of the ball this year as they are 43rd in effective field goal percentage offense, 76thin adjusted offensive efficiency, and 53rd in 2-point percentage on offense.
They face a tough UConn defense though who is ranked in the top 50 is most major defensive categories. St. John’s will have to rely on their star and best player, Julian Champagnie to keep this game close. Champagnie is averaging 21/8/2 on 46% shooting and 40% shooting from deep so he has been incredible this year and surprisingly efficient as well. He is a matchup nightmare at 6’8 as he can use his size and strength to overpower smaller guards and can use his quickness to go around bigs if he gets matched up with a forward or center. St. John’s has struggled in the few games they’ve played on the road but 11.5 points in a big-time conference matchup for a desperate team like St. John’s with a potent offense just seems like too many points.
I think St. John’s has the skill and firepower to keep this game close as long as Champagnie can stay out of foul trouble and be effective. I also think Posh Alexander and Montez Mathis are good enough defenders to cause trouble for RJ Cole and Tyrese Martin as these two guards for UConn really create a lot of their offense. Joel Soriano is the main bug for at johns and while he isn’t a big-time offensive threat, I think he can Hinder Sonogo’s abilities on the inside through his size, experience, and toughness. Score Prediction: 81-74 UConn.
Florida comes into this matchup after 2 disappointing losses to Alabama and auburn which could have been huge resume boosters for them, but they get another opportunity here against number 12 ranked LSU who is 14-1. The line kind of tells the story in this matchup as Florida is unranked, has 5 losses and coming off 2 losses in a row yet is -2/2.5 against a top 15 team with 1 loss? Doesn’t make much sense and I’m trusting the line here. The building should be rocking in Gainesville for this SEC matchup, and I foresee Florida using their toughness to limit LSU on the offensive end, as LSU showed they can really struggle on the road vs a good defense as seen in their loss to auburn. I think Florida gets that resume boosting win here that they really need. Score Prediction: 71-64 Florida
I was surprised to see the line movement here as Villanova opened -1.5/2-point favorites and are now the underdog in their big East matchup but Xavier is a team who has been trending up. Xavier comes into this game with a 12-2 record with one of their losses coming to Villanova earlier in the season. In that game, Villanova really showed their defensive prowess as they held a very good offensive team in Xavier to 58 points. Defense travels in road games and I think Villanova led by Collin Gillespie and company will be able to squeak away with a win. This game should be much closer than the first matchup as Nova blew them out by 20 in the 2H but I still think Villanova is the more talented team who should be able to lean on their experience and outside shooting to help them win this game. Score Prediction: 78-71 Villanova