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Villanova - St John's Preview

VUSports previews Saturday's Noon match-up between St. John's and the visiting, #3 ranked, Wildcats ...

#3 AP, Villanova faces St. John’s Saturday at Noon (TV: FS1, Radio: 610 (WTEL AM) or VUSports Live Chat).  With a win, Villanova will take over sole possession of first place in the Big East.

Kenpom predicts an 82-69 win for Villanova with an 87% chance of ‘Nova winning the game.  ‘Nova trails the all-time series, 53-59.  The Cats are 15-1 over the last 16 games played between the two teams.

The Johnnies are 8-10 on the season and 2-3 in the Big East.  After losses to Minnesota, Michigan St,, VCU, and Penn State out-of-conference, St. John’s crushed Syracuse, 93-60, at Madison Square Garden for their lone “quality” win prior to conference play.  That win served as a springboard to a 2-0 start in league play in which the Red Storm notched a home win over Butler and a road win over DePaul.  Those two wins were followed by a three game losing streak, which remains active.

St. John’s relies a lot on three-pointers offensively and Villanova has guarded the three-ball well.  This has the feel of a game where Jay Wright and his staff come in with a defensive game plan that will take the Johnnies out of their comfort zone and, assuming adequate effort and execution, lead to a relatively comfortable win for a Big East road game.  The Cats offense should be able to share the ball efficiently to get a younger defensive group to bend and break under the stress of making a ton of pick-and-roll decisions and having to do more communication on help defense than they can handle.

Taking a look at the Four Factors for each team:

VUSports (data per

a few things stand out:

  • St. John’s is, essentially, an average team on both ends of the court
  • The Red Storm is not a particularly good defensive rebounding team
  • Villanova stands out positively in regards to Effective FG%, Not turning the ball over and not fouling
  • On the flip side, the Cats don’t get O boards, don’t cause turnovers and don’t get to the FT line much themselves

other stats of interest:

  • The Cats continue to shoot the ball well from all three levels
  • Villanova is holding teams to 28.3% FG shooting (3rd nationally) …
  • and prepare to face a St. John’s team that is shooting a solid 38% from three
  • on the flip side, the Johnnies shoot only 46.9% from two so the Cats will look to force them off the three-point line
  • St. John’s is a very good shot blocking team
  • St. John’s is a young, inexperienced team

St. John’s player thumbnails:

Marcus Lovett (6-0, 175, Fr., 33.1 MPG, 17.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 43.4% 3PFG, 47.1% FG, 84.1% FT, 111.9 ORtg)  The Frosh is playing very well across the board.  Other than a bit of a high turnover rate, he is playing effective basketball  He drains threes, distributes the ball, and has the ability to get to the FT line with some frequency and can his freebies when he gets there.  He can get very hot - has two games of 30+ points already in his career.

Bashir Ahmed (6-7, 210, Jr, 25.2 MPG, 12.3 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.2 APG, 38.3% 3PFG, 38.2% FG, 67.6% FT, 91.7 ORtg,)  Ahmed takes a high percentage of shots when he is on the court.  These shots are pretty evenly spread between three-pointers and two-pointers and he, interestingly shoots a similar percentage from both regions.  Given that, the Cats should look to get him to put the ball on the deck.  He helps out on the defensive glass.

Shamorie Ponds (6-1, 170, Fr., 33.1 MPG, 17.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.7 SPG, 38.3% 3PFG, 45.3% FG, 79.4% FT, 119.1 ORtg)  The most efficient Johnny on offense.  Takes the majority of his shots from beyond the arc.  He is playing very well for a Frosh.  Solid A/TO numbers for a young guard, shooting well from all ranges and creating turnovers on defense.

Malik Ellison (6-6, 215, So., 23.7 MPG, 7.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.9 APG, 38.8% 3PFG, 44.2% FG, 51.2% FT, 106.7 ORtg)  Good ball-handler and passer from the wing position.  Shooting the deep ball well so far this season.  Ellison is a cerebral player that can play multiple positions.

Tariq Owens (6-11, 200, So., 18.1 MPG, 5.6 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 52% FG, 74.2% FT,109.8 ORtg)  Provides shot-blocking and rebounding.  Owens is exclusively and inside threat on offense and remains a bit raw offensively.  

Federico Mussini (6-2, 170, So., 20.1 MPG, 8.6 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 43.7% 3PFG, 41.6% FG, 82.4% FT, 106.2 ORtg)  He has seen his minutes reduced in relation to last season but he is playing more effectively in the minutes he does earn.  Stroking the deep ball well so far this season.   He seems to be shooting the ball better in part because he has been relieved of the chores of a primary ball-handler.

Kassoum Yakwe (6-7, 210, So., 21.1 MPG, 4.1 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 1.1 APG, 41.9% FG, 72.4% FT,  98.7 ORtg)  Primarily a shot-blocker and defender.  Yakwe lacks offensive versatility but is doing a good job this season of sticking to what he can do on the offensive end. He is a great 5-man defensively but has the body of a modern 3-man.  His unpolished game leaves him as a ‘tweener positionally - but a good ‘tweener to have because shot-blocking skill is a rare commodity.

Amar Alibegovic (6-9, 240, Jr., 9.4 MPG, 1.4 RPG, 2.0 APG, 13.3% 3PFG, 27.3% FG, 45.5% FT, 71.9 ORtg)  Plays some back-up minutes at the five spot to take up space in the lane, rebound, screen and defend.  He lacks offensive punch.

Richard Freudenberg (6-9, 240, Fr., 10.6 MPG, 1.5 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 17.9% 3PFG, 22.5% FG, 75% FT, 71.9 ORtg)  Despite his large frame, Freudenberg prefers to shoot the ball from deep … he is one of the few St. John’s players that has struggled shooting the three so far this season.  The Frosh has done an okay job of the defensive glass but struggled to find a groove on offense.

Check out shot charts and more preview info here (courtesy of ONIN2TO)

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